The lawsuit was filed lead plaintiffs Rainoldo Gooding and Nadeen Good in June 2016 against Vita-Mix and Kelly Services. The plaintiffs alleged they were misclassified by the two defendants as being exempt from overtime, in violation of multiple California labor law and federal labor laws.
The plaintiffs claimed they worked at demonstration booths, primarily in Costco wholesale stores across the country, and that those booths were set up during roadshows, which can last between four and 20 days or more. Instead of being paid an hourly wage or salary, the workers were paid on commission, receiving a set amount per Vitamix product sold during each roadshow they worked. According to the complaint, this pay policy violates California labor laws, the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
According to court documents, the defendants have agreed to pay a non-reversionary $1.6 million settlement under which each class member would receive an average payment of $952.17. The workers are recommending approval as they state that the average recovery “far exceeds” the average recoveries in other wage and hour class action settlements. “This settlement provides substantial recovery on defendants’ alleged wage and hour violations,” the workers stated.
The plaintiffs are seeking unpaid minimum and overtime wages under the FLSA, damages for those wages, damages for meal and rest period violations, damages for unlawful deductions and for inaccurate wage statements, waiting time penalties under California law and civil penalties under the PAGA.
If approved, and once other costs and incentive awards are paid, the settlement would see approximately $1.095 million be distributed among 1,150 class members based on the number of weeks the demonstrators worked during the class periods.
The suit also seeks to divide class members who worked for the companies between June 3, 2012, and March 13, 2017, into three classes: a California class, a non-California class and a nationwide FLSA class. Members of the FLSA class would have to opt in to the settlement.
A hearing on the motion for preliminary settlement approval is set for July.
The case is Rainoldo Gooding et al. v. Vita-Mix Corp. et al., case number 2:16-cv-03898, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.