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!


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