By Robert Boczkiewicz La Junta Tribune-Democrat
DENVER -- A group of Loaf'NJug employees allege they were not paid for all the hours they worked as required by a federal wage law.
The allegation is in a lawsuit in Denver at the U.S. District Court for Colorado.
Mini Mart Inc., the company that owns the Loaf'NJug chain of convenience stores andIT Mini Mart's parent company, deny the allegation.
The lawsuit was filed last year, but is in early pre-trial stages. A judge has set a five-day trial to begin Jan. 31, 2022.
The court case began with Crystal Garcia, who worked from 2004 until January of 2017 as an assistant manager of a Loaf'NJug store in Pueblo.
The lawsuit potentially applies to all of the chain's assistant mangers employed from May 7, 2016 until Jan. 22, 2020 at its 175 stores in seven states.
As of a month ago, 37 current or former of those employees opted-in to join Garcia in the case.
A federal wage law requires employees who are paid hourly wages to be paid time-and-a-half for hours when they work more than 40 hours per week.
The lawsuit alleges that some Loaf'NJug employees were required to work more than 40 hours per week, but were paid for only 40 hours.
Mini-Mart Inc. is headquartered in Cincinnati and in turn is owned by a British company, the EG Group, which owns convenience stores in eight countries. Loaf'NJug 's website states that EG Group bought Loaf'NJug in 2018 from the Kroger Co.
Mini Mart and EG are the defendants. In a court filing, they stated they "did not engage in any unlawful conduct."
The employees are represented by a law firm in New York City that represents employees in lawsuits against employers, and by a law firm in Fort Collins. The defendants are represented by a Denver law firm.
The first Loaf'NJug opened in 1973 in Fowler, owned by local businessmen. The Kroger Co. bought Loaf'NJug in 1986.