A federal judge in New Jersey has ordered a law firm handling a wage class action involving one of the country’s largest food services companies to redact information from its website because, the judge ruled, it was misleading.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler, sitting in Newark, on Nov. 19 ordered the Chicago-based law firm, Stephan Zouras, to edit the information on its website.
The firm was ordered to make the changes by Thursday. A review of the firm’s website Thursday revealed no information about the pending class action at issue, Clarke v. Flik International.
On its website, the Zouras firm posts snippets about class action cases in which it is involved.
In a protective order entered at the defendants’ urging, Chesler said some of the information about the Clarke lawsuit that had been posted on the Zouras website was misleading, inaccurate and unbalanced.
“The court has no doubt regarding its authority to require that plaintiff’s notice to potential opt-ins as well as his communication related to this collective action be reasonably restricted and tailored to the class and claims, which have been conditionally certified,” Chesler said.
The lead plaintiff in the class action, James Clarke, is alleging that the defendants, food-service company Flik Hospitality Group and parent company Compass Group USA, violated the law concerning unpaid wages for off-the-clock work and for uncompensated costs related to travel and expenses.
Chesler granted partial class certification earlier this year, with conditions. After a hearing, he entered an order outlining what the Zouras firm could say on its website about the lawsuit in its effort to sign on additional class-member clients.
Chesler said the website notice “must be tailored” to reflect that the pool of potential clients should be limited to persons with certain job titles who worked in the companies’ Whippany office.
Instead, Chesler said, the Zouras firm posted a snippet saying the lawsuit involved “other Flik and Compass locations” and “hundreds of locations nationwide.”
“It is apparent to the court that the information concerning the lawsuit published on the Stephan Zouras website does not conform in numerous respects to the limitations which the court set forth,” Chesler said.
“The court is satisfied that defendants are indeed entitled to a protective order limiting the information contained on any page or portion of the Stephen Zouras website pertaining to the lawsuit,” Chesler said.
The Zouras firm was represented by one of its own attorneys, David Cohen, who works in the firm’s Philadelphia office. He did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Flik and Compass turned to Brian Gershengorn of the New York office of Fisher & Phillips. He declined to comment.
Flik is a wholly owned subsidiary of Compass USA, which claims on its website to have 250,000 employees nationwide with 2017 revenues of $17 billion. It lists IBM, United Technologies, SAP Technologies, Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University as being among its major food-service clients.
Compass USA itself is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Compass Group, which says on its website that it employees 500,000 people in more than 50 countries and had 2017 revenues of nearly $30 billion.