Week Adjourned: 2.20.15 – Caliber Collision, Payless, Actos

Caliber CollisionTop Class Action Lawsuits

Fix my Ride! A California collision repairs chain has reportedly been tinkering with California labor law according to a class action lawsuit filed against it this week. Caliber Collision is being sued by its mechanics who allege they were not paid for all the hours they worked. Heard this before?

Filed by lead plaintiff Samuel Castillo, the lawsuit alleges Caliber Bodyworks of Texas Inc., which operates the car repair chain Caliber Collision, pays its mechanics on a piece-rate system for each task they perform, and that the workers are assigned piece-rate hours per tasks, regardless of the time it actually takes them to perform. Castillo claims he recorded the hours he worked, but Caliber only paid him under the piece-rate system.

“As a result, defendants did not pay plaintiff for all hours worked at the minimum wage, as defendants failed to pay plaintiff for nonproductive hours, i.e. hours that he was not performing piece-rate work,” the complaint states.

Further, the lawsuit contends that Castillo worked for Caliber from 2007 through to the end of January 2014 classed as a nonexempt technician under the piece-rate system. According to the suit, under Caliber’s pay system, if a task were assigned a value of 0.8 hours, the mechanic would be paid for 0.8 hours of work, regardless of whether the task took 10 or 90 minutes to perform.

According to the suit, the method Caliber uses, of meeting their minimum wage obligations, dividing daily piece-rate earnings by daily hours worked, violates California labor law. The suit also alleges Caliber paid Castillo nondiscretionary bonuses and other forms of compensation that aren’t excludable from the regular rate of pay.

“Despite defendants’ payment of incentive pay to plaintiff, defendants failed to include all forms of incentive pay when calculating plaintiff’s regular rate of pay, thereby further causing plaintiff to be underpaid all of his required overtime wages,” the complaint states.

Castillo alleges that he regularly worked in excess of eight hours per work day and over 40 hours each week, without receiving overtime compensation. Further, because the company only pays its workers in the piece-rate system, it also fails to maintain any compensation system for compensating rest periods.

“As a result of defendants’ failure to pay all overtime and minimum wages, defendants maintained inaccurate payroll records and issued inaccurate wage statements to plaintiff,” the suit states.

Finally, the lawsuit contends that Castillo requires its mechanics to buy their own tools that are necessary to perform their job duties, without reimbursing the workers for the cost of the tools.

The employment class action is seeking certification on behalf of classes of workers denied minimum wage, overtime hours, expense reimbursements and more.

The suit is Castillo et al. v. Caliber Bodyworks of Texas Inc. et al., case number BC572767, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Top Settlements

If the Shoe fits… Coming out the other end of an employment lawsuit we have Payless Shoesource, which has reached a $2.9 million settlement in an employment class action alleging the retailer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by misclassifying its store managers as a means of avoiding overtime pay.

According to the terms of the Payless settlement agreement,  two thirds of the funds will be shared among the 2,197 class members. According to court documents, most of the plaintiffs worked as store managers or leaders at Payless retail outlets from March 2011 on.

In 2006, Payless faced a similar lawsuit when employees in Mississippi alleged the shoe retailer had violated the FLSA by routinely requiring managerial employees to work 60 to 90 hours a week, and making them perform non-managerial tasks without paying them overtime. That case was settled out of court and the terms remain confidential.

Justice at what Cost? Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, the makers of the diabetes drug Actos, has been ordered to pay $1,334,636 million in punitive damages by the jury hearing the case of a retired school teacher who developed Actos bladder cancer.

The jury found that Takeda had acted with reckless indifference for the health of Mr. Kristufek, who alleged that Actos had caused him to develop bladder cancer.

The $1.3 million in punitive damages is additional to a $2.3 million award the jury handed down the day before, after agreeing that Takeda had failed to provide adequate warnings about the drug’s association with bladder cancer and that the medication had been a significant cause of Mr. Kristufek’s condition.

Kristufek’s is the fifth Actos-related case out of eight in which juries have returned verdicts on behalf of plaintiffs, and only the second in which the company has faced punitive damages. Further, his is the second Actos-related case to win in Philadelphia, with a jury awarding $2 million in damages in a case that cited similar allegations for a woman.  

Hokee Dokee- That’s a wrap folks…Time to adjourn for the week. See you at the bar!