Week Adjourned: 3.30.18 – Facebook, Kellogg’s, Uber

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Facebook. ‘Nuff said, right? You knew it was coming! Facebook and Cambridge Analytica got hit with a privacy violations class action lawsuit this week,  filed by a man in Houston who alleges, on behalf of 50 million Facebook users, that they could be impacted by the massive data breach perpetrated by the defendants. You think?

Plaintiff Mathew Lodowski filed the complaint naming Facebook, the data company Cambridge Analytica LLC, New York businessman Robert Leroy Mercer and psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, of Cambridge, England, as defendants.

According to the complaint, private and personal profile data were taken from Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, “in excess of the authorization granted by Facebook and Facebook users, in violation of the Stored Communications Act,” and Facebook “failed to protect its user data, and … failed to take reasonable measure necessary to retrieve the data … and notify its users … and only spoke publicly on the issue after news stories exposed their negligent behavior.”

Additionally, the complaint alleges that Cambridge Analytic LLC, Kogan and Mercer conspired together to mine Facebook users’ data from the social media site.

Lodowski asserts in the proposed class action that the information taken from people’s Facebook accounts were initially cleared by Facebook because the data would be used for “academic” reasons. However, those data were in fact used for commercial purposes, by Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.

The complaint seeks damages of $1,000 per violation and relief from Kogan and Cambridge Analytica for violating privacy rights, according to court documents.

Those data “allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016,” The Timesreported.

Facebook officials have stated that the data in question were properly gathered several years ago by psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan, who said he was using the data for academic purposes.

However, in 2014, Cambridge Analytica was in possession of the data, at the same time the company was working to develop techniques that could be used to influence voters and was later hired by Donald Trump’s campaign.

Top Settlements

Kellogg’s is going to pony up… $16.8 million, as part of a preliminary settlement reached after four years of litigation in an unpaid overtime   class action lawsuit.

According to the original lawsuit, filed by Patricia Thomas, Kellogg’s deprived territory managers and retail store representatives of premium pay when they worked overtime, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Kellogg’s settlement resolves the current complaint, which is is the third amended version, filed in 2014. It alleged that territory managers and retail store representatives were often working upwards of 60 hours a week but that Kellogg’s failed to pay the time-and-a-half premium rate that the workers say they’re owed.

“If plaintiffs did not prove Kellogg’s willfully violated the FLSA, then 144 plaintiffs (or 20% of the class) would recover nothing,” the class said in its bid to get the judge’s approval of the settlement. “Or if Kellogg’s proved that the fluctuating workweek applies, but plaintiffs prevailed on everything else, plaintiffs recovery would reduce to approximately 30% of their total damages.”

The settlement requires final court approval. The case is Thomas v. Kellogg Co. et al, case number 3:13-cv-05136, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Hey Uber, how much this time? $10 million baby. Yup. Uber has agreed a preliminary settlement potentially ending a discrimination class action lawsuit alleging the ride share company did not pay its female software engineers and engineers of color equitably compared with their male and white or Asian American peers. #wtf?

The lawsuit was filed by Ingrid Avendaño, Roxana del Toro Lopez and Ana Medina in October 2017, alleging that Uber engaged in unfair business practices and violated the California Equal Pay Act and Private Attorneys General Act.

“In this system, female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers because female employees and employees of color receive, on average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance,” the plaintiffs claimed.

In November, following removal of the proposed lawsuit to federal court, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint which establishes two classes, one for California workers and the other for a nationwide class of workers. According to the amended complaint, Uber was in violation of 10 state and federal laws or business codes.

The Uber settlement, which requires final approval, stipulates $28,000 to each of the estimated 420 plaintiffs who claim to have been negatively impacted by Uber’s performance evaluation system. Further, the settlement requires Uber to work with an outside company to develop a new system for promoting, evaluating and compensating workers.

Uber must also internally monitor base salaries, bonuses and promotions for possible adverse impacts on workers of color and women, as part of the settlement agreement.

The financial disbursements include $50,000 to named plaintiff del Toro Lopez and $30,000 to Medina.

Ok folks – that’s a wrap. See you at the Bar!

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