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CURRENT, FORMER FOOD LION EMPLOYEES CAN JOIN OVERTIME SUIT; FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS NOTIFICATION

 CURRENT, FORMER FOOD LION EMPLOYEES CAN JOIN OVERTIME SUIT;
 FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS NOTIFICATION
 RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Current and former Food Lion store employees in six states have until Dec. 31, 1992, to join lawsuits alleging that Food Lion failed to pay overtime wages to workers for off-the-clock work, according to the terms of an order issued Tuesday by a federal judge.
 Chief District Court Judge James C. Fox, who is overseeing pre- trial proceedings for 10 lawsuits filed in different states, ordered notices mailed to assistant store managers and all hourly-paid store employees, except cashiers and baggers, employed by Food Lion on or after Oct. 16, 1989, in North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.
 Lawyers for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, who assisted several hundred current and former Food Lion workers in filing similar claims with the U.S. Department of Labor, estimated that "in excess of 50,000" current and former employees in 90 percent of the chain's stores will get the opportunity to "opt-in" to the suits.
 Labor Department officials told a House subcommittee last month that investigators found "substantial" overtime and child labor violations in its investigation, which included more than 4,000 interviews with employees.
 Until the Department of Labor files its own suit, however, eligible employees could lose potential backpay because of the three- year statute of limitations for willful violations, the UFCW said. The union has also asked the government to seek an injunction against Food Lion's "effective scheduling system," which the union believes pressures employees to work off the clock.
 Union attorneys advised complainants to the Labor Department to also consider filing private lawsuits to "stop the clock" on their claims. The lawsuits were initiated by private attorneys not associated with the union.
 Fox ordered the notices mailed by Nov. 9 and stated that claims and consent forms must be filed with the court by Dec. 31, 1992.
 UFCW attorneys said it is "highly significant that the court has provided a means for thousands of Food Lion employees to protect their claims, while the Labor Department delays filing any action against Food Lion."
 -0- 10/21/92
 /NOTE: Copies of the notice and Fox's order are available by calling the contact below./
 /CONTACT: Al Zack of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, 202-223-3111/ CO: United Food & Commercial Workers Union; Food Lion ST: North Carolina IN: REA SU:


DC -- DC025 -- 3015 10/21/92 15:15 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 21, 1992
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