Week Adjourned: 6.23.17 – Mears, CenturyLink, Costco

Top Class Action Lawsuits

Drivers Driven to Action… Class Action, that is. An employment class action lawsuit has been filed by chauffeurs for Mears Transportation in Florida. The drivers allege the company has failed to compensate them for at least $50 million in unpaid overtime, employment taxes, and certain ordinary business expenses. That’s not chump change.

According to the complaint, 40 former and current Mears luxury car chauffeurs have been misclassified as independent contractors when they are treated as employees.

The drivers assert in their proposed class action that they are given the Mears luxury chauffeurs’ employee handbooks and business cards bearing the Mears logo and address and that they must wear Mears employee uniforms with name tags bearing the Mears logo. Further, they are required to drive fully insured and fueled company cars.

The lawsuit states that other than their technical classification, the luxury car chauffeurs must go through much the same hiring and employment situations at the company as other employees, specifically, they must apply for work by submitting an employment application, and go through an employee background check. They are required to be interviewed and must attend mandatory employee training, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, the drivers allege that they must pay Mears significant sums to operate Mears vehicles and drive Mears clients during shifts set by Mears. Further, Mears allegedly does not allow the chauffeurs to have a copy of their contract or allow them to remove their contracts from Mears’ premises.

The plaintiffs are seeking federal certification of their class action, and to have Mears pay luxury chauffeurs the same as Mears van and motor-coach drivers, among other claims. Go get’em!

CenturyLinked to Fraudulent Customer Accounts? – that’s what a consumer fraud class action lawsuit filed by a former employee turned whistleblower alleges. The telecommunications company allegedly employed high-pressure sales tactics which resulted in consumers paying for accounts they didn’t request.

The CenturyLink lawsuit was filed by plaintiff Heidi Heiser, who worked as a home-based CenturyLink customer service and sales agent from August 2015 to October 2016. She alleges she was fired just days after informing CenturyLink’s Chief Executive Officer of the scheme during a companywide question-and-answer session held on an internal message board.

Filed in Arizona state court, the complaint states CenturyLink “allowed persons who had a personal incentive to add services or lines to customer accounts to falsely indicate on the CenturyLink system the approval by a customer of new lines or services.” This would sometimes result in charges that hadn’t been authorized by customers, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that when customers complained about an unauthorized charge, customer service and sales agents like Heiser were directed “to inform the complaining customer that CenturyLink’s system indicated the customer had approved the service.” The complaint states that as a result “it was really the customer’s word against CenturyLink.”

CenturyLink provides communications and data services nationwide and offers hosting, cloud, and information technology services. It is currently negotiating a $34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications Inc.

Heiser’s complaint alleges she became increasingly concerned about what she observed at CenturyLink after hearing of Wells Fargo & Co.’s employees opening deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ consent to earn incentives and meet sales goals.

Top Settlements

Paying Full Price for Unpaid Overtime, Costco has agreed a $9 million settlement in an employment class action lawsuit filed by San Diego-area pharmacists who allege they were forced to remain on call in the pharmacy during their breaks and pressured to work unpaid overtime.

The Costco lawsuit, filed in April 2014, alleged the pharmacists who worked shifts alone were required to stay on-call during their breaks so they could respond in the event they were needed to complete tasks that legally only a pharmacist is permitted to handle. Pharmacists were also expected to answer emails and text messages while off the clock. Additionally, the pharmacists claim that Costco discouraged them from working overtime.

According to the terms of the proposed settlement, Costco will pay nearly $5,000 to each of approximately 1,175 pharmacists and pharmacist managers with Costco tenure dating back to April 2010. These payments are compensation for alleged violations of California labor law.

A collective class alleging Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations will receive five percent of the net settlement.

According to the settlement motion, the relief averages more than $4,900 per class member.

The case is Dittmar v. Costco Wholesale Corp. et al., case number 3:14-cv-01156, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Ok – That’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!

2 thoughts on “Week Adjourned: 6.23.17 – Mears, CenturyLink, Costco”

  1. century link went into experian and requested a copy of my credit report as if i had asked for a “loan”. it brot my score down for 782 to 742 while i was trying to get a home equity loan or i would of never noticed it. i am also a retiree and payments for the rest of my life (in writing) were stopped in 2008 then as us west communications.

  2. Re Centurylink account creation, I have been victim of similar fraud by Centurylink. They added services/packages to my account without my knowledge or permission, then refused to remove those charges. When I did not pay, they cut my service & filed bad credit report. DirectV and Comcast (Xfinity) did the same; and so did AT&T five years ago. I now have bad credit report, which affects my insurance rates, etc. I have no Internet service & have to use my cell phone as a hotspot. I believe the telecommunications companies make a huge share of their profits by routinely fraudulently billing. There needs to be closer regulation. I would be interested in joining a lawsuit. Since these companies claim to contract via telephone (smoke & mirrors) they claim anything they want; THEY SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO USE ONLY WRITTEN CONTRACTS.

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