Vail Resorts replies to lawsuit over alleged violations of labor laws
While not responding to refute the allegations, company asks US District Court judge to dismiss claims in Utah and other states
The Vail Daily
Vail Resorts on Friday made its first response to a proposed class action lawsuit filed in December on behalf of three former and current employees at its Beaver Creek Resort.
The lawsuit alleges that the company, which operates 34 ski resorts in North America, has repeatedly violated federal labor laws as well as state labor laws in Colorado, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont, Michigan and Utah.
Filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of Randy Dean Quint, John Linn and Mark Molina, the lawsuit seeks state class action status and federal collective claim status for current and former employees who worked for Vail Resorts over the past three years.
It argues the publicly traded company has systematically failed to pay Quint, Linn and Molina and other hourly employees for all hours worked at wages specified in employment agreements, including overtime wages.
The 167-page lawsuit was filed Dec. 3 by California-based attorneys Edward P. Dietrich and Benjamin Galdston, who have declined to comment on the case.
The lawsuit alleges Vail Resorts fails to pay ski and snowboard instructors and other employees, including ticket scanners and lift operators, to varying degrees, for their entire shifts, for “off the clock work” Vail Resorts requires or accepts, for some types of training, for travel on company shuttles, for dressing and undressing time, or for the use, purchase or maintenance of their ski and snowboard equipment or their cellphones required for work.
In Vail Resorts’ reply, a partial motion to dismiss filed by the firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, the company does not attempt to counter any of the alleged labor law violations. It instead argues the three Colorado-based plaintiffs lack standing to pursue state law claims in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont, Michigan or Utah.
“Plaintiffs purport to bring a nationwide collective action filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as a variety of Rule 23 class actions under the wage and common laws of nine states, namely, Colorado, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont, Michigan, and Utah. Yet the allegations in plaintiffs’ complaint allege and confirm they worked only in Colorado,” the company’s reply states.
“Plaintiffs have not (and cannot) establish an injury in fact under the laws of California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont, Michigan, or Utah,” the reply continues.
“By their own allegations, plaintiffs never worked in those states, and have not established they were otherwise subject to the laws of those states. As several cases from this district hold, plaintiffs have no injury under the laws of those states and lack standing to assert claims under those laws on behalf of themselves or a putative class … plaintiffs lack standing to allege such out-of-state violations, and these claims should be dismissed.”
Vail Resorts and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart did not respond to requests for comment on the reply to the lawsuit.
Vail Resorts’ reply also notes that 10 additional people have since filed consent forms to opt into the lawsuit against the company, all alleging to have worked for Vail Resorts, and all alleging that they, too, were not properly paid for all time worked or for overtime or expenses.
“The filing of ten ‘consent forms’ does not save these claims,” Vail Resorts’ argues in its reply. “As the Tenth Circuit has observed, ‘standing is determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint.’ As of the date the complaint was filed, there was no connection alleged between any of the named plaintiffs and any one of the non-Colorado states. This is still the case.”
The reply asks the court to dismiss claims six through 20, which allege violations of state labor laws in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont, Michigan and Utah, as well as claims 21 and 22, breach of contract and unjust enrichment “to the extent they seek relief under the laws outside of Colorado.”
Claims one through four allege federal Fair Labor Standards Act violations, including failure to pay for all hours worked, failure to pay overtime wages, failure to reimburse for expenses, and failure to pay for training time, and count five alleges violations of Colorado wage laws.
The lawsuit alleges Vail Resorts has exploited the three plaintiffs and thousands of other seasonal employees in violation of federal and state labor laws for years through egregious practices that continue to the present.
“This action seeks to hold Vail Resorts accountable for its misconduct, fairly compensate plaintiffs and other similarly situated current and former Vail Resorts employees for damages preliminarily estimated to total more than $100 million,” the lawsuit states.
Dietrich and Galdston are anticipated to file a response to Vail Resorts’ reply to their lawsuit in coming weeks. A telephone scheduling conference between the two parties is set for March 17 before Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher in Grand Junction, according to court records.
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