You’d better make sure your employment practices line up with your policies, because your company can be sued for either one. Back in 2012, Armida R. filed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against her employer, Burlington Coat Factory, for allegedly denying employees their full meal and rest breaks and requiring employees to submit to security checks after they had clocked out.
Armida worked for Burlington Coat Factory in their Compton, California location. California has very strict legislation to protect its employees from being overworked and/or underpaid. For example, California labor law requires employers to provide all their hourly workers with regular meal and rest breaks throughout the day. For every four hours an employee works, she is entitled to one paid, uninterrupted rest break lasting at least ten minutes. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break of at least half an hour. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, the employer owes her one hour’s worth of pay, in addition to all wages, bonuses, and tips earned that day.
According to the wage and hour lawsuit, Burlington Coat Factory’s policy allegedly limited rest breaks to “discrete time frames.” It also allegedly maintained a policy that required employees to submit to security checks after they had clocked out at the end of their shift and for their meal break. Security checks are checks in which employees are searched to make sure they aren’t walking out of the store with any stolen merchandise. When a lot of employees clock out at the same time, they can be made to wait in long lines to get through the security checks. This cuts into their personal time and because it is required by the employer, many workers have argued it is time for which they should be paid.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. and Burlington Coat Factory of California LLC. They argued that, despite what their policies said, in practice, managers did not actually violate any California labor laws. When it comes to the security checks, they argued that the checks were random and did not consistently limit employees’ meal breaks to less than half an hour.
Despite these arguments, both parties have agreed to settle the wage and hour class action lawsuit for $1.8 million. The settlement saves both sides from the financial risks associated with continuing to fight the legal battle in court. Burlington Coat Factory also gets to save face by avoiding the possibility of a conviction and retaining the right to insist it did nothing illegal.
The class members included are all the current and former employees of Burlington who worked for the retailer in a non-exempt, hourly, non-managerial capacity in California any time between October 11, 2008 and the date the court grants preliminary approval of the settlement. Rodriguez estimates approximately 22,000 people will qualify to participate in the class settlement.
Anyone who is unsatisfied with the settlement, for any reason, can file a formal objection before the court approves the settlement. Any class member wishing to retain the right to file a claim against either defendant for the same or similar grievances in the future can choose to opt out of the class.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at one of our offices near Country Club Hills and Tinley Park at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.