4th Street Live bars agree to $1 million settlement over unpaid - WDRB 41 Louisville News

4th Street Live bars agree to $1 million settlement over unpaid wages

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Businesses linked to the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. have agreed to pay just over $1 million to settle a five-year-old class-action lawsuit in which former employees of three bars at 4th Street Live say they were forced to work off-the-clock and pool tips in violation of Kentucky law.

The settlement could benefit about 400 people who worked in roles such as bartenders and “beer tub girls” at Tengo Sed Cantina, Hotel nightclub and Angel's Rock Bar between Jan. 30, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2010, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville.

The bars, court records show, were partly owned by the principals of the Cordish Co. and controlled by Cordish vice president Reed Cordish. The Cordish Co. owns and operates 4th Street Live, the downtown entertainment district that is heavily subsidized by city and state taxpayers.

EARLIER: Sunday Edition | Cordish officials grapple with wage issues at 4th Street Live bars

While the parties have agreed on terms, lawyers for the Cordish-affiliated businesses have asked the judge not to approve the settlement right away.

The bar owners want to wait to see if a recent Kentucky Appeals Court decision that favors their side will withstand a potential review by Kentucky Supreme Court.  In February, the appeals court ruled that Kentucky's wage and hour law does not allow class-action lawsuits, like the one against the 4th Street Live bars.

If the settlement stands, about $600,000 of the $1 million would be available to former bartenders, servers, “beer tub girls,” “shot girls” and security personnel of the nightclubs. That's an average of about $1,500 per worker based on the 400-employee estimate given in court, but the award for each person will be based on hours worked and calculated by a claims administrator.

(About $257,000 would go to the attorneys who brought the case, and $140,000 to the six former employees who were named plaintiffs and representatives of the class).

The former employees claim they were forced to perform unpaid work promoting the venues, setting up and cleaning up, and attending mandatory meetings, and that they were illegally forced to pool and share their tips.

For example, they were expected to go to other bars, concerts and hotels and pass out flyers promoting the bars and to call potential customers and try to sell them a “happy hour” party, according to the lawsuit.

The companies behind the bars do not admit any wrong-doing in the settlement. Kenyon Meyer, a Louisville attorney representing the defendants, did not immediately return a call for comment.

As WDRB reported in 2013, another Cordish-affiliated bar at 4th Street Live – the Sports & Social Club – has also run into trouble with unpaid wages.

The plaintiffs in the 2010 class-action suit are William Whitlock, David Skyrm, Kristin Moore, Holly Goodman, Gary Muncy and Michael Brown. They were primarily represented by Michele Henry of Craig Henry PLC.

The defendants are FSL Management LLC, FSH Management LLC, Cordish Operating Ventures LLC, and Entertainment Consulting Services LLC.

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