Tour Escorts to get $14 Million in settlement of overtime and retirement plan claims

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco law firm of Dacey & Sitkin today announced a major class action settlement in excess of $14 million compensating approximately 200 tour escorts for unpaid overtime under federal and California law and approximately 370 tour escorts for not being included in the retirement plans of the defendant Group Voyagers, Inc., the Colorado based seller of multi-day tour packages for bus tours. Group Voyagers historically treated tour escorts, who are located across the U.S., as administrative or professional employees who were exempt from overtime.

The employees had alleged that the majority of their duties included routine tasks, such as following the company mandated itinerary, assembling luggage, inspecting buses, checking tour members into hotels, offering commentary on the sites visited, and selling optional tour extensions, and that they did not hire, fire, or discipline other employees.

Under the settlement, which received final approval yesterday afternoon from Federal District Court Judge Susan Illston, the tour escorts will receive overtime compensation based on a 12.6 hour work day and payments based on 75% of the employer’s contribution to the retirement plans.

While tour escorts on these bus tours historically have been paid a flat daily wage of around $100, the average payment for California overtime class members will be over $100,000, with the highest payment exceeding $450,000. After 41⁄2 years of complex litigation, we’re delighted with the result. It is a major development for an industry that has historically failed to recognize overtime entitlements and other employee benefits for tour escorts,” said James Sitkin, Plaintiffs’ attorney with Dacey & Sitkin in San Francisco. Tour escorts, including from out of state, attended the final approval hearing and broke out in applause after the final approval hearing, some in tears.

Dacey & Sitkin also has recently settled a similar action against another major tour operator, Grand Circle Travel of Boston, and is proceeding with similar actions against the operators of Tauck Tours, Trafalgar Tour, Contiki Tours, Titan Tours, Saga Tours, and others.

The law firms of Davenport, Gerstner & McClure and Tierny Walden Watson assisted Dacey & Sitkin in the action against Group Voyagers.

Donna Primas

Chicago Tour-Guide Professionals Assn.
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