Several Vail Resorts workers who tried to opt out of lawsuit were not added to list and aren’t receiving answers |

Several Vail Resorts workers who tried to opt out of lawsuit were not added to list and aren’t receiving answers

Labor lawsuit settlement hearing scheduled for Aug. 19

John LaConte
Vail Daily
An employee scans a lift pass on opening day at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. The company which runs the lifts, Vail Resorts, has been accused of violating labor laws in 16 states and is currently attempting to settle the lawsuit.
Photo by Liz Copan/Studio Copan

Vail Resorts is currently attempting to settle a large class-action lawsuit, which wages numerous allegations of labor law violations like unpaid work hours and unpaid overtime.

In most efforts to settle a class-action lawsuit, a third-party administrator handles much of the effort to get in contact with the class, and in the current Vail Resorts lawsuit (Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley), the settlement administrator is a Wisconsin-based company called A.B. Data. The company has handled the efforts to reach out to the class of an estimated 103,593 current and former Vail Resorts workers.

A.B. Data set up a website that helped members of the class join the suit, but in a recent court hearing on the settlement, the company was accused of making it easier to opt into the lawsuit than opt out. And now some of those who tried to opt out are saying they were not added to the court-filed list of opt-out names.

Plenty of reason was given to opt out of the settlement, which was described at the June 17 hearing by one member of the class as being “absurd” for its low offer. Opting out means employees can still join another labor lawsuit against Vail Resorts.

The opt-out deadline was May 20.

‘How many got tossed?’

Numerous employees have come forward in recent weeks saying they filed their opt-out forms in advance of the deadline and received confirmation emails with the subject line “Thanks for opting out,” yet were not added to the opt-out list provided to the court. The Vail Daily has confirmed similar accounts with several sources, including Beaver Creek ski instructor Doug McMurrain, who agreed to speak on the record.

McMurrain is among those not on the opt-out list sent to the court in advance of the June 17 settlement hearing. McMurrain said he felt strongly about opting out and ensured all his opt-out forms were filled out properly.

“I’ve got a file, confirming my opt-out, I scanned and sent it to (A.B Data), they said, ‘We’ll get back with you.’ I’ve never heard back,” McMurrain told the Vail Daily. “It just makes me wonder how many opt-outs got tossed in the trash.”

Currently, the only way to see the opt-out list is by obtaining a public declaration filed to the Superior Court of California by Katie Rovertoni of A.B Data.

The Vail Daily has obtained the list but is choosing not to publish it, as some Vail Resorts employees have expressed fear of retaliation as a result of their lack of cooperation in the case.

A total of 1,544 opt-out forms were received and processed by A.B. Data, according to Rovertoni’s declaration.

Declaration discrepancies

Another person who has attempted, unsuccessfully, to get information from A.B. Data about his settlement offer is Vermont ski instructor Tom Buchanan.

In a letter sent to the court on July 1, Buchanan detailed his efforts to reach A.B. Data to voice objections and receive information about how his settlement offer was calculated.

Buchanan said his correspondence with A.B. Data doesn’t support Rovertoni’s declaration that the company “has not received any disputes from Class Members regarding their recorded hours,” a declaration executed on June 6.

“I expressed clear objections to the proposed settlement amount and to the California class action as a whole when I first called the A.B. Data claims hotline on March 22, 2022,” Buchanan said in the July 1 letter. “I then emailed A.B. Data asking how the proposed settlement was calculated and seeking the wage and hour records they had for me. In my two short email chains I expressed additional objections in writing, stating ‘the proposed settlement is extraordinarily low, and it seems like Vail Resorts has conspired with a willing plaintiff (Hamilton et al) to settle claims at a deep and unfair discount that would better be handled in Quint et al. v. Vail Resorts.’ I then asked how I could communicate with the court about the proposed settlement I described as ‘overly friendly to the employer and harmful to workers,’ and which I characterized as ‘an obviously abusive settlement.’ Additionally, in my final email to A.B. Data on April 20, 2022, I characterized the proposed settlement offer as ‘unreasonably low.’”

Reached by phone on Thursday, Rovertoni said she could not comment on the matter, and said that she would prefer her name not be used in any news stories about Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley.

But Buchanan, who first started attempting to contact the court in June, was not shy about naming Rovertoni in his letter to the court as the administrator whose name is on the public document presented to the court.

Buchanan said his letter is important because it “includes new information about potential discrepancies I have identified in the recently obtained Declaration and Supplemental Declaration of Katherine Rovertoni of A.B. Data, that are based on my personal experience interacting with A.B. Data.”

Buchanan’s letter also points out a fundamental problem with the court declaration by Rovertoni saying no disputes of recorded hours were received — the fact that no recorded hours were given.

“I did not receive the wage and hour data A.B. Data used to calculate my settlement award, which I clearly requested multiple times via phone and email,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan concludes by writing that “The Declarations of Katherine Rovertoni are misleading because they fail to properly characterize or count all the objections, complaints, comments and concerns received by A.B. Data, and because A.B. Data did not provide Class Members with wage or hour data (recorded hours) even when that information was specifically requested.”

A final approval hearing for the class settlement has been set for Aug. 19 at 1:30 p.m in the El Dorado County California Superior Court building located at 1354 Johnson Blvd in South Lake Tahoe.

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