Week Adjourned: 1.13.17 – Anheuser-Busch, TD Bank, Harmless Harvest

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Wage & Hour Lawsuit Brewing... Another year, another unpaid overtime class action lawsuit, likely one of many to come. This lawsuit has been brought against Anheuser-Busch (AB) alleging the brewer fails to provide proper rest breaks and adequate compensation for overtime for its delivery and store merchandise employees.

Filed by former temporary employee Jose Hernandez, the lawsuit claims that Hernandez’s wage statement did not differentiate between hours paid at the regular pay rate and those paid at an overtime pay rate. The lawsuit further claims that his total pay didn’t take into account the overtime he had worked.

Allegedly, AB also systematically denied its delivery and store merchandising workers their breaks and didn’t pay them for that time.

According to the allegations, Hernandez worked as a temporary employee setting up retail displays from August to October 2016, at a pay rate of $10.50 per hour. However, while working for AB, he was required to work through what was supposed to have been state-mandated break time. The defendant allegedly did not always pay Hernandez properly for the overtime and double time he was supposed to have earned, in violation of California labor law.

The hours worked in each pay period as listed on his wage statements didn’t add up to the total hours he had actually put in, and the company didn’t always compensate him for the overtime he worked, Hernandez claims.

Heads up – Hernandez is looking to represent a class of delivery and merchandising employees for Anheuser-Busch’s California business who received itemized wage statements, worked more than 3.5 hours without a break, or worked more than eight hours in a day from January 2013 to the present, according to the complaint.

The case is Jose Hernandez v. Anheuser-Busch LLC et al., case number BC646330, in the Superior Court for the State of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles. 

TD Facing OD Charge Lawsuit… OD as in “overdraft”. Like the banks aren’t making enough money. TD Bank got hit with a potential class action lawsuit alleging it “unlawfully” applies overdraft fees that penalize customers who don’t replenish their overdrawn bank accounts within 10 days. Read on…

Filed on behalf of Shaina Dorsey, the TD Bank lawsuit contends that the sustained overdraft charge of $20 is imposed on customers’ accounts after an initial charge of $35 for the overdraft itself, and exceeds the limit permitted by the National Bank Act.

“Unlike an initial overdraft fee, the Sustained Fee for Overdrawn Accounts is an additional charge to a customer for which the bank has provided nothing new in the way of services,” the lawsuit states. “The charge is based solely on the alleged indebtedness to the bank remaining unpaid by the customer for a period of time.”

According to the complaint, Dorsey’s checking account went into “overdraft” status in August 15, 2016 and remained that way until September 8, 2016. The $20 fee on August 26, 2016 was in addition to six other fees totaling $210 “for transactions that created her ‘overdraft’ status in the first place.” Ouch!!

The class action suit claims that the fees are technically interest charged at an illegal rate and, when factoring for the legally permitted rates, are tens of times greater than what could be imposed.

The lawsuit seeks plaintiffs who use TD Bank and were charged with the extended overdraft charges.

Go get ‘em!

Top Settlements

Harmless Harvest Harvesting Bucks Unfairly? The beverage company agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to end a pending consumer fraud class action lawsuit it’s facing over alleged false advertising.

FYI—the Harmless Harvest lawsuit claimed that the coconut water product packaging contained false and misleading statements that its Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water (later renamed Harmless Coconut Water), Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Dark Cacao, Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Cinnamon & Clove, and Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water Fair Trade Coffee were falsely labeled as “100 percent Organic” and “Raw”.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Harmless Harvest has agreed to have an independent third-party consultant watch over them for a period of two years from the effective date of the settlement. The consultant’s role  will involve reviewing product labels for ongoing accuracy (as they can’t do this in-house?) and provide reports to class counsel.

About the money…the company also agrees to bear the cost of the consulting fees. The company has also agreed to pay incentive awards to the named plaintiffs, totalling $20,000.

The proposed settlement class includes “all persons in the United States who made retail purchases of one of more of Harmless Harvest’s coconut water products in the United States at any time from September 30, 2011, through the date of Preliminary Approval.”

Don’t get excited just yet – the proposed settlement requires final court approval. The case is “Raw” Coconut Water Class Action Lawsuit is Guoliang Ma, et al. v. Harmless Harvest Inc., Case No. 2:16-cv-07102, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

We will keep you posted so watch this space for updates.

Well folks –that’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar.

Week Adjourned: 8.15.14 – Anheuser-Busch, SpaceX, FedEx

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories include Anheuser-Busch, SpaceX, FedEx.

PThis week it’s all about getting paid! 

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Hey Bud–this one’s for you!  The maker of Budweiser—Anheuser-Busch—is facing an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit filed in California federal court alleging the company failed to pay its drivers overtime. The lawsuit was filed by Charles Hill and Joe Correa, each of whom drove delivery trucks for Anheuser-Busch in California, allege “Anheuser-Busch’s violations … were willful and intentional.” They are also claiming that the beverage giant implemented pay structure that discouraged workers from taking required meal breaks and rest periods, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  and California labor law. Nice! But we know this song…you work the hours, you don’t get paid, you can’t take your meal and rest breaks…. Why do so many big corporations have such a hard time paying their people? What is that about? Try it and see if you can get away with it? Then so much the better?

Well, not in this case…According to the Anheuser-Busch lawsuit, Hill has worked for Anheuser-Busch from about June 1999 through to the present, and Correa from 1985. During this time, a typical day work day for them involved picking up alcoholic beverages from a storage facility and delivering them to retail locations throughout the state of California. Drivers are allegedly paid a flat rate per day plus about 10 cents per case for every case delivered. Hill and Correa claim that the drivers can often work between eight to ten hours per day, which results in more than 40 hours per week, yet they are not compensated for the overtime.

Further, the lawsuit claims that despite there being a written policy in place regarding employees being able to take meal and rest breaks, Anheuser-Busch refused to allow the drivers to take them. The company further established a payment structure discouraging its drivers from taking meal and rest breaks because it would be impossible to be paid for the time.

The plaintiffs also allege the company does not pay its drivers for all hours worked including regular hours, because the company locates its clock out location in a remote area “to encourage drivers to clock out prior to finishing all their work.”

“The drivers routinely would clock out first and then proceed to the warehouse to finish their work duties [saving] them a trip back to the clock-out location,” the lawsuit states. “Anheuser-Busch knew about this practice but continued to allow the drivers to perform the work.”

The nitty gritty—the class action lawsuit seeks to represent all Anheuser-Busch truck drivers who drove routes exclusively in California during a four-year period prior to the filing of the instant case.

Additionally, the plaintiffs seek to represent a second “rest break” class comprised of all Anheuser-Busch’s California drivers who were paid a flat daily rate plus a piece rate for each case delivered over the course of the same four year period.

The FLSA claims are being brought as a collective action for Anheuser-Busch drivers during a three-year period preceding the complaint. The case is Charles Hill et al v. Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide Inc., case number 2:14-cv-06289, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Failure to WARN? Some 400 employees—sorry—ex-employees at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) allege they were just laid off in violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Law (WARN ACT) act, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit just filed. The  plaintiffs are alleging the company has also violated California labor law when it laid off those factory workers—which incidentally total about 11% of the company workforce—without proper notice.

FYI—The WARN ACT requires that every industrial or commercial establishment in California that employed 75 or more people in the last 12 months “may not order a mass layoff [defined as 50 or more employees in a 30 day period], relocation, or termination at a covered establishment unless, 60 days before the order takes effect” the employer gives written notice of the order to the employees, California “Employment Development Department, the local workforce investment board, and the chief elected official of each city and county government within which the termination, relocation, or mass layoff occurs.”

Filed by employees at company headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, the lawsuit is seeking class action status and damages for back pay, wages, injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties for illegal mass layoffs of 200 to 400 factory workers on or about July 21st.

Go get ‘em!

Top Settlements 

FedEx Ground will be delivering $2.1 million in funds as settlement of a California labor law class action lawsuit brought. Filed by a group of current and former package handlers, the lawsuit alleged the company failed to provide proper meal and rest breaks.

Lead plaintiff Aaron Rangel alleged in the class action filed in September 2013, that FedEx Ground Package System Inc., was in violation of the California Labor Code and the state’s Unfair Competition Law.

As part of the settlement motion, about $7,500 will be set aside as an award for Rangel. Additionally, FedEx will be required to clarify its meal and rest period policies, which the agreement says could itself be worth $100,000.

Rangel, a former FedEx employee, said FedEx was required, but failed to provide, class members who worked two shifts in a workday a meal period, as well as a second rest period. He also said FedEx failed to provide pay employees for time spent in security checks.

If approved, the settlement will provisionally certify a class of current and former nonexempt FedEx package handlers in California who worked for the shipping company at any time from Sept. 24, 2009, through either Sept. 1, 2014, or the date of preliminary settlement approval, whichever is earlier.

The settlement agreement weighs a worker’s share based on whether he or she was a part-time or full-time employee, with more money going toward those who were full-time or who worked more than one four-hour shift in a workday. It also gives more money to former employees who were entitled to waiting time compensation.

If there is any unclaimed money, it will not revert back to FedEx, but instead be allocated toward those who did claim a share of the settlement fund, according to the terms of the agreement.

The case is Aaron Rangel v. FedEx Ground Package System Inc et al, case number 8:13-cv-01718, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week.  Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!


Week Adjourned: 3.1.13 – Walmart, Budweiser, Apple

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. This week’s highlights include Wal-Mart, Budweiser and Apple.

Walmart Lawsuit Block DetourTop Class Action Lawsuits

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again…Good advice, we hope, for the women who have just filed a regional gender discrimination class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

Now, to be clear, Wal-Mart is not unfamiliar with the allegations, as a national gender discrimination and employment class action was filed against the world’s largest retailer only to be dismissed in 2011 by the US Supreme Court. Had that class action gone through, the class of plaintiffs would likely have been in the hundreds of thousands. But it didn’t. So—now, acting on the advice from the Supreme Court, women are filing discrimination class actions by state. The one filed this week is the fifth such regional lawsuit.

Filed in Wisconsin by one current and four former employees, the class action, entitled Ladik et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Case No. 13-cv-00123, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleges that female employees are discriminated against when it comes to receiving compensation and promotions. The Wisconsin gender discrimination class action lawsuit is seeking to represent female workers employed by Wal-Mart since December 1998.

I’ll show my gender bias and wish them every success!

Hey Bud—this one’s for you! Oh heck yes. This week saw Anheuser Busch, the brewer of the self-proclaimed King of Beers—Budweiser —get hit with several consumer fraud class action lawsuits alleging that it waters down its Budweiser, Michelob and other top-selling beers. Tsk,Tsk. Do not go messing with people’s alcohol content gentlemen.

Filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states, the Budweiser lawsuits allege that consumers have been sold beer that contains less alcohol than advertised on the labels.

Specifically, the complaints allege that Anheuser Busch employs some of the most sophisticated process control technology in the world to precisely monitor the alcohol content at the final stages of production, and then adds additional water to produce beers with significantly lower alcohol content than is represented on the product labels, and depriving consumers of the value they paid for.

The lawsuits are based on information provided by former employees at the company’s 13 US breweries, some in high-level plant positions, according to lead lawyer Josh Boxer (MSN.com). “Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products mentioned (in the lawsuit) are watered down,” Boxer told MSN.com “It’s a simple cost-saving measure, and it’s very significant.”

The complaint alleges: “There are no impediments—economic, practical or legal—to AB accurately labeling its products to reflect their true alcohol content. Nevertheless, AB uniformly misrepresents and overstates that content.”

Nina Giampaoli who filed the California-based lawsuit, said “I think it’s wrong for huge corporations to lie to their loyal customers—I really feel cheated. No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels.”

I’ll drink to that!

Top Settlements

Nothin’ like a kid in an Apple—er, candy—store. This one is for all you parents out there who woke up on morning to find your credit card balance had magically grown—seemingly on its own. But wait—is that the patter of little feet I hear? Could it be the kids buying in-game extras from the Apple mobile apps store that’s the root of the mystery? You betcha!

And this week, Apple magnanimously agreed to pony up some gift cards, no total value given, by the way, in settlement of the consumer fraud class action it’s facing over what could only be described as unfair business practices.

If the Apple apps settlement is approved, parents would receive $5 iTunes gift cards. Wow—pack up the kids, you’re going on vacation!

Ok—here’s the skinny. The lawsuit is brought by parents who allege their children downloaded free games from the Apple mobile app store and then went on to buy in-game extras—effectively charging the cost of the games to their parents—without their parents’ knowledge. In some cases these charges ran into the hundreds of dollars. Yup.

If approved, Apple would build a website for people who wish to make a claim. As well the tech-giant would send e-mail notifications to some 23 million customers. OK, that ain’t chump change.

According to a report by CNN.com parents whose children incurred larger costs and who want more than $5 gift card, must provide proof that a larger amount was spent by their children during any 45-day period. Those who can show more than $30 in purchases may choose a cash refund instead of an Apple credit. Purchases made until the date of the settlement would be eligible for refunds, CNN.com reported.

Bad Apple! What kind of example does that set?

Ok—See you at the bar and Happy Friday!