Many people love bulk grocery stores for their ability to provide access to cheap food. However, companies sometimes allegedly use illegal means to achieve their low prices and attract customers. One recent class action lawsuit was filed in California that accused the bulk grocery store chain, Smart & Final, of allegedly failing to pay all wages to its employees. According to the lawsuit, Smart & Final allegedly failed to provide its employees with the proper overtime compensation and meal and rest breaks, as required by state and federal law.
According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week is considered overtime. Under the Act, all hourly workers, with a few exceptions, are entitled to the premium compensation of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.
In addition to federal law, states have their own labor laws that govern all employees working within that state. For example, under California labor law, hourly workers are to be paid the premium overtime rate for all time spent working on the seventh consecutive day of work.
California also requires employers to provide all hourly workers with a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. For every five hours worked, employers must provide an unpaid, uninterrupted meal break of at least half an hour. For every day that an employee misses one of these breaks, for any reason, the employee is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day.
According to the recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against Smart & Final, the grocery store allegedly failed to provide these mandatory breaks to its employees. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges the employer failed to take into account the fact that employees are entitled to enhanced wages when they work Sundays. The result was that the company allegedly provided workers with incorrect wage statements. Smart & Final denies all of these claims.
The FLSA is very specific about the requirements for wage statements. The Act requires employers to provide all workers with accurate, itemized wage statements. These statements must include all hours worked by the employee, all wages paid, and all deductions made from the employee’s pay (such as taxes, health insurance, etc.). Failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements can result in severe penalties for employers, and in the event of a lawsuit, can sometimes be used to prove that wage and hour violations were conducted willfully and intentionally.
The lawsuit originated as two separate wage and hour class action lawsuits that were both filed in California before they were consolidated. This demonstrates the fact that class action lawsuits benefit the courts by allowing them to handle multiple claims in one case.
Smart & Final recently agreed to settle the class action wage and hour lawsuit for $3 million. As a result of the consolidation, about 16,000 current and former employees of Smart & Final will be eligible to file a claim under the settlement. The final step in settling a lawsuit is approval of the settlement by a court judge. Smart & Final’s settlement has been granted that approval, so class members can expect to see their share of the settlement soon. Smart & Final says it settled to avoid expenses and not because it did anything wrong.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, 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 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 (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.