NOTICE OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
Brittany Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc., et al.
Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Spring Street Courthouse
Case No. BC699642
To: All persons who worked for Defendant to provide therapy or counseling services, either as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or licensed Clinical Social Worker, and classified by Defendant as independent contractors in the State of California at any time during the period from March 26, 2014 until May 12, 2021, the date on which the Court granted preliminary approval of the Settlement.
PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. IT MAY AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO MONEY FROM THIS SETTLEMENT
A proposed class action settlement (the “Settlement”) of the above-captioned action (the “Action”) filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles (the “Court”), has been reached by the parties and has been granted preliminary approval by the Court supervising the Action. The settlement will be paid over the course of twenty-two (22) months, with four (4) equal payments. The first payment will be made within thirty (30) days of the entry of final judgment, with each subsequent installment made each seven (7) months thereafter.
A final settlement hearing will be held on October 5, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. to determine whether the Settlement should be granted final approval. The Village Family Services, Inc.’s (“Defendant”) records show that you worked for Defendant as a licensed therapist and classified as an independent contractor within the State of California at some time during the period from March 26, 2014 to May 12, 2021 and therefore are a Class Member in this Action. As a Class Member, you may be entitled to money under the Settlement and, unless you “opt out” of the Settlement, your legal rights may be affected. The purpose of this Notice of Class Action Settlement (“Notice”) is to (1) describe the Action, (2) inform you of the terms of the Settlement, and (3) inform you of your rights and options in connection with the Settlement.
II. SUMMARY OF THE ACTION
On March 26, 2018, former independent contractor therapist Brittany Yahalom (“Plaintiff”) commenced a wage-and-hour class action against Defendant in the Los Angeles County Superior Court by filing a Class Action Complaint for Damages (“Complaint”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant misclassified Plaintiff and all the members of the Class as independent contractors, and failed to properly pay overtime and minimum wages, failed to provide compliant meal and rest periods and associated premiums, failed to timely pay wages upon termination and during employment, failed to provide compliant wage statements, failed to reimburse business expenses, and engaged in unfair business practices. Plaintiff contends that Defendant owes unpaid wages, penalties, restitution, injunctive and other equitable relief, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, under, inter alia, California Labor Code sections 201, 202, 218.5, 226(a), 226.7, 510, 512(a), 1194, 1197, 1197.1, 1198, 2800, and 2802, California Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq., California Civil Code sections 3336 and 3294, and California Penal Code section 476. Plaintiff further alleges Defendant violated the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) and contends that Defendant owes civil penalties under California Labor Code section 2698, et seq.
Defendant denies all of Plaintiff’s allegations and specifically denies that it violated the law in any way as described in the lawsuit. Nothing in this Notice, or the Settlement itself, or any actions required to carry out the terms of the Settlement mean that Defendant admits any fault, guilt, negligence, wrongdoing or liability whatsoever. There has been no finding of any wrongdoing by Defendant. Defendant wishes to settle in order to avoid the costs, time, and disruption caused by litigation.
The Court granted preliminary approval of the Settlement on May 12, 2021 on behalf of a settlement class defined as:
All persons who worked for Defendant to provide therapy or counseling services, either as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or licensed Clinical Social Worker and classified as independent contractors in the State of California at any time during the period from March 26, 2014 to May 12, 2021 (“Class”).
At that time, the Court also preliminarily approved Plaintiff to serve as Class Representative and the following attorneys to serve as Class Counsel:
1925 Century Park East, Suite 1990
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Azad M. Marvazy Light Law Group, APC
1925 Century Park East, Suite 1990
Los Angeles, CA 90067
III. SUMMARY OF SETTLEMENT TERMS
Settlement Amount. Subject to final Court approval, Defendant will pay the amount of $300,000 (the “Gross Settlement Fund”) to fully resolve the claims in the Complaint. The Gross Settlement Fund includes all settlement payments to the Class Members who do not timely request exclusion from the Settlement (“Settlement Class” or “Settlement Class Members”), Class Counsel’s attorney’s fees, litigation costs and expenses, the Settlement Administration Expenses, the Service Award to the Class Representative, and payment to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) for PAGA penalties as outlined below.
Settlement Administration and Other Payments. The Court has tentatively approved certain payments to be made from the Gross Settlement Fund as follows, which will be subject to final Court approval:
- Settlement Administration. Payment to the Settlement Administrator, estimated to be $15,000.00, for the expense of notifying the Class Members of the Settlement, processing any Requests for Exclusion submitted by Class Members, calculating payments to Settlement Class Members (“Individual Settlement Shares”), and distributing Individual Settlement Shares, among other
- Attorney’s Fees, Expenses, and Costs. Payment to Court-approved Class Counsel of reasonable attorney’s fees not to exceed $100,000.00 as reasonable compensation for the work Class Counsel performed in this Action, and will continue to perform through settlement finalization, together with reimbursement for actual litigation expenses and costs actually incurred in connection with the Action (which are currently estimated not to exceed $11,000.00). Class Counsel has been prosecuting the Action on behalf of Plaintiff and the Class on a contingency fee basis (that is, without being paid any money to date) and has been paying all litigation costs and expenses.
- Service Award to Plaintiff. Service award in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 to Plaintiff to compensate her for her services on behalf of the Settlement Class in initiating and prosecuting the Action. This payment is in addition to whatever payments Plaintiff is otherwise entitled to receive as a Settlement Class
- Plaintiff’s Separate Settlement. Plaintiff has received separate funds for the settlement of other individual claims against Defendant not covered by this class Settlement. Those funds are from a separate source not available to pay the Class Members.
- PAGA Payment: $25,000.00 of the Gross Settlement Amount will be allocated for payment of Plaintiff’s and Class Members’ claims arising under PAGA. Upon Court approval, 75% of the allocation ($18,750.00) will be paid to the LWDA and 25% of this allocation ($6,250.00) will be distributed to Class Members as part of the Net Settlement
Calculation of Settlement Class Member Awards. Class Members who do not timely opt-out (“Settlement Class Members”) will be entitled to receive a pro rata portion of the Net Settlement Fund (his/her “Individual Settlement Share”), calculated based upon the number of weeks that each Settlement Class Member worked for Defendant as an independent contractor therapist within the State of California during the time period from March 26, 2014 to May 12, 2021 (“Settlement Period”).
Tax Matters. Each Individual Settlement Share is allocated as ten percent (10%) wages, forty-five percent (45%) interest, and forty-five percent (45%) penalties. The wage portion of each Settlement Class Member’s Individual Settlement Share will be subject to employee’s share of taxes and withholdings and shall be reported on an IRS Form W-2. Settlement Class Members will be issued payment of their Individual Settlement Share subject to reduction for the employee’s share of taxes and withholdings with respect to the wage-portion of each share. Settlement Class Members shall be exclusively liable for any and all tax liability. Settlement Class Members may wish to consult their tax advisors concerning the tax consequences of the payments they receive under the Settlement. The employer’s share of payroll and employment taxes and contributions with respect to the wage-portion of each share will be paid by Defendant separately and in addition to the Gross Settlement Fund.
Releases. Upon the full funding of the Settlement by Defendant, meaning only after Defendant has tendered each and every installment payment required totaling $300,000 (see Section IV below), and except as to such rights or claims as may be created by the Settlement Agreement, all members of the Settlement Class fully release and discharge the Released Parties (“Released Parties” refers to The Village Family Services, Inc., and all of its past, present, and future parent companies, subsidiaries, and divisions, related or affiliated companies, and all of its respective owners, shareholders, trustees, executors, administrators, officers, directors, employees, agents, attorneys, insurers, successors and assigns, any individual or entity which could be liable for any of the Released Claims, and Defendant’s Counsel of record in the Action) from the “Released Claims,” which shall be any and all claims alleged in, or arising out of facts asserted in, the operative First Amended Complaint in the Action which arose during the period of March 26, 2014 to May 12, 2021 (the “Released Claims”). These include claims for: (1) failure to pay overtime compensation in violation of California Labor Code sections 558 and 1194, et seq.; (2) failure to pay minimum wages in violation of California Labor Code sections 1182.11-1182.13, 1194, 1194.2, 1197, and 1197.1; (3) failure to provide meal and rest breaks in
violation of California Labor Code sections 218.5, 226.7, 512, 558, and 1194, et seq.; (4) failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements in violation of California Labor Code section 226; (5) waiting time penalties in violation of California Labor Code sections 201, 202, and 203; (6) conversion in violation of California Civil Code sections 3336 and 3294; (7) unfair business practices in violation of California Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq.; (8) wage theft in violation of California Penal Code sections 484 and 496; and (9) failure to indemnify for necessary expenditures in violation of California Labor Code section 2802.
All Class Members who do not timely request exclusion (i.e., Settlement Class Members) shall be bound by this release. Settlement Class Members shall be bound by this release unless they formally and timely opt out of the settlement.
In the event that a Class Member submits a valid request exclusion and, thereby, opts out of the Settlement Class, that Class Member shall still recover a payment pursuant to the PAGA Payment and such payment will be calculated on a pro rata basis for the statutorily permitted period of August 15, 2016 to the date on which the Court grants preliminary approval of the Settlement (the “PAGA Period”), based on the total of thirteen (13) aggrieved employees during the PAGA Period. In exchange for this PAGA Payment, the Class Member fully releases and discharges the Released Parties from any and all claims for penalties under PAGA as disclosed in the PAGA Notice sent to the LWDA and alleged in the operative First Amended Complaint in the Action. Such claims for penalties under PAGA include: (1) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 226.8(a), 2753(a), 558, and 2699, et seq. for misclassification as independent contractors; (2) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 558, 1199, 1197.1, and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to pay overtime wages; (3) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 2699, et seq. for failure to provide unpaid balance of full amount of overtime compensation; (4) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 558, 1197.1, and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to pay minimum wages; (5) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 558 and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to provide uninterrupted off-duty meal periods; (6) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 558 and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to provide uninterrupted off-duty rest periods; (7) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 558, 2802 and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to reimburse expenses; (8) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 226.3and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to furnish wage statements; (9) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 1174.5and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to keep accurate payroll records of daily hours worked; (10) pursuant to California Labor Code section 1199 and 2699, et seq. for violating or refusing or neglecting to comply with any provision of the Labor Code regarding employees’ wages, hours, and working conditions; (11) pursuant to California Labor Code sections 203, 256 and 2699, et seq. for unlawful failure to pay wages due upon termination.
Conditions of Settlement. This Settlement is conditioned upon the Court entering an order at or following a final approving hearing on the Settlement. The Court’s final approval order and judgment must be entered and completely final, without any further recourse available by any appellant or objector to the Settlement.
IV. RECEIVING PAYMENT UNDER THE SETTLEMENT
If you do nothing, you will be deemed part of the Settlement Class, you will be issued payment from the Settlement, and you will release all Released Claims, as described herein. The Settlement payment will be issued in four (4) equal installments beginning with the first payment thirty days after the Conditions of Settlement stated above have been met. Thereafter, each of three (3) additional installments will be made every seven (7) months thereafter, with the final installment payment being made twenty-one (21) months after due date of the first installment payment.
If you wish to challenge the Workweeks attributed to you, as printed in your mailed notice, then you must submit a written, signed dispute, along with supporting documents, if any exist, to the Settlement Administrator at the following address, postmarked no later than July 24, 2021:
Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc.
c/o Analytics Consulting LLC
P.O. Box 2002 Chanhassen, MN 55317-2002
In order to ensure receipt of your payment, it is your responsibility to make sure you keep the Settlement Administrator informed of your current mailing address, and you may do so by contacting the Settlement Administrator by mail at the address listed above. Settlement checks shall remain valid and negotiable for one hundred eighty (180) calendar days from the date of their issuance and, if not cashed within that time, the check will be cancelled. The funds associated with such cancelled checks considered unpaid, unclaimed, or abandoned cash residue pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 384 (“Unpaid Residue”), and the Unpaid Residue plus any accrued interest that has not otherwise been distributed shall be transmitted by the Settlement Administrator, to the cy pres designation, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
V. RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF THE SETTLEMENT
If you do not wish to participate in the Settlement, you may exclude yourself from the Settlement or “opt out.” If you opt out, you will receive no money from the Settlement, and you will not be bound by its terms. To opt out, you must submit a written request to be excluded from the Settlement (“Request for Exclusion”), to the Settlement Administrator, at the address listed above in Section IV, that contains the following information: (1) a clear statement indicating your desire to opt-out of the Settlement, such as: “I do not want to be part of the settlement class in the Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc. class action”; (2) your name; (3) your current address; (4) your telephone number; (5) the last four digits of your Social Security number; and (6) the case name and number (the case name is Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc., and the case number is BC699642). The Request for Exclusion must be postmarked no later than July 24, 2021. Requests for Exclusion that do not include all required information or are postmarked after July 24, 2021 will be rejected, and those individuals will remain bound by the Settlement and the release of Released Claims described above.
VI. RIGHT TO OBJECT
Any Class Member who has not opted out (i.e., any Settlement Class Member) and believes that the Settlement should not be finally approved by the Court for any reason, may object to the proposed Settlement. Objections must be in writing, state the basis for the objection, and be mailed to the Settlement Administrator at the address listed above in Section IV, postmarked on or before July 24, 2021. All objections should state the Settlement Class Member’s name, current address, telephone number, dates of employment with Defendant, last four digits of his or her Social Security number, and the case name and number (Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc., and the Case Number is BC699642). The objection should also describe why the objector objects to the Settlement, and state whether the objector intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing. To object to the Settlement, you must remain a member of the Settlement Class, and if the Court approves the Settlement, you will be bound by the terms of the Settlement in the same way as Settlement Class Members who do not object. The Court will hear from any Class Member who appears at the Final Approval Hearing and asks to speak, regardless of whether a written objection was submitted. Class Members have the right to appear either in person or through their own attorney (at their own expense). You may appear remotely at the Final Approval Hearing. Please sign up at www.lacourt.org/lacc for remote appearance.
VII. HEARING ON THE SETTLEMENT (“FINAL APPROVAL HEARING”)
The Final Approval Hearing on the adequacy, reasonableness and fairness of the Settlement will be held on October 5, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 17, in the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of Los Angles-Spring Street Courthouse, located at 312 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. The Final Approval Hearing may be continued without further notice. You are not required to attend the Final Approval Hearing, although any Settlement Class Member is welcome to attend the hearing. If you are objecting, please see Section VI above for instructions. The Court will hear from any Class Member who appears at the Final Approval Hearing and asks to speak, regardless of whether a written objection was submitted. You may appear remotely at the Final Approval Hearing. Please sign up at www.lacourt.org/lacc for remote appearance. Any changes to the date or location of the Final Approval hearing, in addition to notice of final judgment, will be available on the class administration website: collectiveaction.io/thevillageclassaction.
VIII. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
This Notice is only a summary of the Action and the Settlement. Settlement Class Members should contact the Settlement Administrator at Yahalom v. The Village Family Services, Inc., c/o Analytics Consulting LLC, P.O. Box 2002, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2002 with any concerns or questions regarding the Settlement. For more information, you may visit the class settlement website: collectiveaction.io/thevillageclassaction, or call the following toll-free telephone support phone number: 1-833-415-2440.
You may also refer to the pleadings, the Settlement Agreement, and other papers filed in the Action, which may be inspected at the Office of the Clerk for the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of Los Angles-Spring Street Courthouse, located at 312 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, during regular business hours of each court day. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you must make an appointment to view documents at the Clerk’s Office and must comply with all social distancing requirements in effect at the Courthouse. Please visit the “Here For You, Safe For You” section of the Court website located at: www.lacourt.org for more information.
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE CLERK OF THE COURT OR THE JUDGE WITH QUESTIONS.