A Brighton-based Taco Bell franchisor will wait more than a year before being able to defend itself in court against a class-action lawsuit.

The defendant, Sundance Incorporated, is headquartered in Brighton and owns over 170 Taco Bell franchises in Michigan and five other states. The lawsuit was filed by four plaintiffs who worked as crew members and as management at various locations throughout Metro Detroit alleging improper wage and schedule practices. But according to attorney Megan Bonanno, hundreds of other current and former employees have since joined in for a total of 520 plaintiffs. Court records show that a trial date has been set to hear the suit, but not until June of 2019. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit alleges various minimum wage and overtime violations of the Federal Labor Standards Act over a period of years. The plaintiffs are seeking damages, back pay, restitution and other relief.

At various points, Sundance is accused of failing to pay employees for all hours worked including overtime. Some employees were allegedly classified as managers, although they did not perform any managerial duties, such as hiring, firing or disciplining employees. But because they were exempt from overtime, their effective hourly rate was less than that of a regular employee. The suit further maintains that Sundance kept a white board in its Brighton office to keep track of employees’ “shifted hours” worked during one week and then moved to the following week so that time records didn’t indicate an employee worked over 40 hours in a given work week.

Sundance has denied the allegations and maintains that the plaintiffs are not entitled to relief under the Federal Labor Standards Act. (JK)