An employer's failure to pay some of its bay area workers for all the time they worked leads to a $3.85M class action settlement. Look through most lists of common violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and you'll find things like improperly classifying workers, failing to track breaks properly, and failing to pay overtime properly. Another item on those lists is failing to pay workers for "off-the-clock" work. Unpaid off-the-clock work can represent a violation of both federal and California law so, if it's happened to you, reach out to a knowledgeable San Mateo employment law attorney to discuss your situation and what your next steps should be.
What Is Off-The-Clock?
Generally, "off-the-clock" violations involve a non-exempt worker who works during an unpaid break, before their shift starts, or after their shift ends. This can occur in a variety of ways, including preparing for work (which potentially can include donning special apparel/protective gear or logging into a work computer,) cleaning up after your shift ends, doing paperwork before or after your shift, or completing training while clocked out. In addition to potentially constituting an FLSA violation, going unpaid for off-the-clock work is prohibited by California wage and hour law.
That's exactly what allegedly happened to a group of Bay Area airport workers. The workers were non-exempt employees of a major airline catering company. According to the workers' class action complaint, the employer demanded that they undergo searches off the clock, sometimes during "what should have been overtime and during meal breaks," in violation of California law.
The parties underwent mediation and, a few weeks ago, the workers achieved a settlement. In exchange for the workers dropping the case, the employer agreed to pay $3.85 million.
How a Class Action Can Help
As noted above, these San Francisco International Airport workers advanced their case as a class action. Pursuing a wage and hour case as a class action (as opposed to individual workers pursuing each of their cases individually) possibly can have many advantages. For one thing, because one team of legal counsel will pursue one court case, the costs are lower as the entire class will share the burden of costs and fees of one litigation, as opposed to an individual worker shouldering that burden alone.
Additionally, it's very likely a class action will be less demanding on your time than an individual action. In a class action, a small fraction of the entire array of class members will be chosen to be "representatives" of the class. In a lot of court hearings, only the class representatives (and the class's legal counsel) need to appear. As a result, if you're not one of the representatives, you'll likely end up spending less time attending court than if you pursued a case individually.
Furthermore, class actions often pose a greater threat of a large judgment amount. This implicit threat holds certain potential advantages, such as possibly motivating your employer to engage in settlement negotiations more earnestly and fairly.
Contact A Lawyer
Whether you've encountered improper misclassification, illegally underpaid overtime, or unpaid "off-the-clock" hours, the knowledgeable San Mateo workers compensation attorney at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP are here to help. Our team can offer both the extensive experience you need and the personalized attention you deserve. Contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.