Week Adjourned: 6.21.13 – Intern Pay, McDonald’s, Flonase

The top class action lawsuits and settlements for the week ending June 21, 2013. Top stories include intern pay, McDonald’s paying workers with plastic, and the much-awaited Flonase settlements.

FlonaseTop Class Action Lawsuits

Unpaid Interns Going for Big Payday… or at least their day in court. A former unpaid intern at Atlantic Records claims the record company required him to work full-time over eight months without pay, often 10 hours a day, according to a proposed employment class-action law suit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Of note, the Atlantic Records class action is the first unpaid internship lawsuit to be filed against a music industry business, according to lawyers involved in lawsuit; the class action alleges that Atlantic Records and its parent, Warner Music Group Corp, violated New York State Labor law by requiring the intern, Justin Henry, of Brooklyn, to work full time without pay.

Henry was an intern in 2007 for Atlantic engaged in filing, faxing, answering phones and fetching lunch for paid employees, according to the suit. He alleges his internship existed solely for the benefit of Atlantic Records, and that he received no training or mentorship. Sadly, we’ve heard this before.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law, unpaid internships must exist for training purposes and employers may derive “no immediate advantage” from the work provided by interns.

So, Henry is seeking to recover unpaid minimum wages ($7.15 per hour) and overtime, as well as attorney’s fees.

Plastic Pay at McDonald’s? No stranger to employment lawsuits, McDonald’s is facing a potential employment class action, with a new twist. The lawsuit was filed by an employee in Pennsylvania who alleges she was issued with a fee-loaded Chase Bank Debit card, instead of a paycheck. Yes, really.

Natalie Gunshannon, a 27-year old single mother, worked at McDonalds in Luzerne County, PA, at an hourly rate of $7.44 from April 24 through May 15. When she received her first paycheck, it was not a check at all but rather a JP Morgan Chase debit card which would cost her $1.50 for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 per balance inquiry, 75 cents per online bill payment, and $15 for a lost or stolen card. Nice. I wonder who thought this one up.

When Gunshannon asked if she could be paid by check she was allegedly told that the debit card was the only option. Furthermore, her future earnings would be deposited into the debit card account and she could access her money from there. “McDonald’s does not provide a choice for hourly employees to receive their justly earned wages through a bank check, cash or direct deposit,” the lawsuit said. Pennsylvania law states that employees are entitled to have a choice to be paid by check or cash.

Go get’em!

Top Settlements

Flonase Settlements Approved. GSK will have to pony up $185 million in two recently approved settlements involving the marketing—or not—of Flonase nasal spray. They were facing two antitrust class actions both of which allege that GSK deliberately prevented generic versions of Flonase nasal spray from going to market.

The Flonase settlements total $185 million, with $150 million designated for reimbursement to people and entities in the US who purchased Flonase directly from GSK at any time from May 19, 2004 until March 6, 2006. For complete information on this settlement, and to download forms, visit flonasedirectsettlement.com The case is, In re Flonase Antitrust Litigation, No. 08-CV-3149, is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

A second class involving those who indirectly purchased Flonase and generic Flonase—will receive reimbursement from a $35 million settlement fund. These class members include anyone who purchased Flonase or generic Flonase for personal, family or household consumption in the United States and its territories from May 18, 2004 through March 31, 2009. Also included in the class is anyone who made co-payments or other partial out-of-pocket payments through their health plans. For complete information on this settlement visit flonasesettlement.com The case is In re Flonase Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 8-cv-3301 and Medical Mutual of Ohio v. GSK, Case No. 12-cv-4212 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Okee dokee—that’s it for this week. A safe and happy weekend to all. See you at the bar!

Week Adjourned: 1.4.13 – Dole Food, Google, Viacom, Chase Bank Fees

The weekly wrap of top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories for the week ending January 4, 2013 include Dole Food, Google Privacy, Viacom Privacy, and Chase Bank Overdraft Fees.

Dole Food LogoTop Class Action Lawsuits

Dole Delivering Nutrition But Not Compensation? New year, old tricks…This time it’s Dole Food Company—they’re facing a wage and hour class action lawsuit over allegations it fails to pay its employees for the time they spend dressing and undressing in sanitary clothing, which they must wear during work. According to the Dole class action lawsuit, “The time that Dole requires its employees to work without compensation on a daily basis is substantial.”

The Dole lawsuit alleges specifically that dressing in protective gear and sanitizing hands and shoe soles are food safety practices that workers are required to use to comply with Dole’s policies. “All of these activities are performed for the benefit of Dole,” the lawsuit states.

Lead plaintiff, Jose Luis Hernandez, who worked in Dole’s Soledad plant, alleges Dole also routinely violated lunch and rest break requirements because employees were required to “don and doff” their gear, and that time shouldn’t be considered part of the employees’ break time. “Dole knew or should have known that its policies and practices were expressly contrary to California law and unfair,” the lawsuit states. Go get’em!

Heads Up! Got Kids On The Internet? Ok. Stupid question. Six internet privacy class action lawsuits have been filed against Google Inc. and Viacom Inc. over allegations the companies illegally track the online activities of children under 13. These actions, according to the Google and Viacom privacy lawsuits, violate both the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) and the federal Wiretap Act.

Specifically, the lawsuits claim that Viacom and Google placed cookies on users’ computers enabling the companies to unlawfully track the Internet and video-viewing activities of minors who visited Viacom-owned sites like Nick.com and NickJr.com. The information was used to target advertising, the lawsuits allege.

The cookies allegedly remained on computers even after the children had informed Viacom through the sign-up process that they were under 13.

“The plaintiffs, and others similarly situated, suffered invasions of privacy in direct violation of federal law when Viacom and Google developed, implemented and profited from cookies designed to track the Internet communications and video viewing habits of minor children under the age of 13,” the lawsuits state.

The plaintiffs in all six class action lawsuits are seeking to certify a nationwide class of children under 13 who had cookies placed their computers by Google and Viacom for the purposes of tracking their viewing habits, without the plaintiffs’ knowledge. Plaintiffs are also proposing a subclass of children who engaged with video materials that Viacom knowingly allowed Google to track through a specialized cookie.

Top Settlements

Chase Maxed Out Its Good Credit…or so it seems, and will have to pony up a $110 million—the amount that recently received final court approval—as settlement of a Chase overdraft fees class action lawsuit.

The settlement is the latest settlement to be reached in the massive class action lawsuit involving over 30 banks who are alleged to have manipulated customers transactions in such a way as to maximize overdraft fees.

The allegations also state that rather than declining transactions on an account that has insufficient funds to cover a purchase, Chase Bank authorized the transactions and then processed them in highest to lowest dollar order, which effectively increased the number of overdraft fees charged.

As part of the settlement agreement, Chase will, for a period of at least two years, cease charging overdraft fees on individual debit card transactions of $5.00 or less.

Class members include anyone who (A) held a Chase, Bank One, or Bank of New York consumer deposit account accessible with a Chase debit card anytime between January 1, 2003 and March 29, 2010; and (B) were charged one or more overdraft fees as a result of Chase’s practice of posting debit card transactions from highest to lower dollar amount.

Ho Ho Ho, It’s to the Bar I go. See you there!