Articles Posted in Breaks

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Class certifications are an invaluable tool for plaintiffs with small claims to band together to gain leverage over defendants. A claim of a few hundred dollars or less is not worth the expense of filing a claim in court, but those few hundred dollars could mean the difference between paying rent and going into debt for a lot of workers.

Class actions also benefit the courts because they allow the courts to handle up to tens of thousands of similar claims in one blow, rather than having to handle each case individually.

A class of plaintiffs must fulfill certain requirements in order to qualify as a class action. These include claims that are similar enough to justify handling them all at once, competent representation, and a class representative whose claims are sufficiently similar to the rest of the class. It is the judge’s responsibility to make sure all these requirements are met before certifying the class. Continue reading

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Workers in California who believe their employers may be cheating them out of wages have the option to report the alleged violations to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, which can then decide whether or not to investigate the allegations. If the Agency decides not to investigate, the employee still has the option to file a lawsuit on her own.

That’s the path Taelyn L. is taking. She says she worked at an Applebee’s restaurant run by Apple American Group LLC, which is the largest franchisee of Applebee’s. It has about 480 restaurants in 23 different states and employs over 31,000 people. The company was started in 1998 and it’s sales have continued to grow every year since. Last year they reported annual sales of $1.2 billion. Continue reading

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Although different states have set different minimum wages for the employers that conduct business within each state, no one is allowed to go below the federal minimum wage. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. For employees who earn tips (including waiters, bartenders, and manicurists) the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets an even lower minimum wage at $2.13 per hour.

This is because the law assumes the tipped employees will be earning at least minimum wage through the combination of their wages and their tips. If an employee does not earn enough tips to make up the difference, the FLSA requires the employer to provide the employee with enough wages so the employee makes no less than $7.25 per hour. Continue reading

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The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set forth numerous rules and regulations that employers throughout the country are obliged to follow. The FLSA is most commonly referenced for minimum wage and overtime laws, but it covers much more than that.

In addition to the FLSA, employers may be bound by other regulations, such as state law (which is sometimes more strict than the FLSA) and even their own policies. Under the FLSA, an employee handbook created by an employer is considered to be an enforceable document, and the employer must abide by the terms laid out in the handbook.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Wal-Mart, the retail giant allegedly violated its contract with employees by refusing to pay them for meal breaks, as laid out in the company’s own Employee Handbook. According to the lawsuit, the Handbook allegedly states that all hourly employees who work between three and six hours per shift must be paid for one short break. Employees who work longer than six hours at a time, are entitled to be paid for two short breaks. Continue reading

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Although lawmakers try to write laws to be as clear as possible, there is always room for interpretation. One court may view a law one way, while another court will come to a different conclusion based on the same law. It’s because of this that people so often appeal decisions that did not go in their favor. Rulings sometimes flip back and forth between the two parties as they work their way up the court system.

Recently, the California Supreme Court has agreed to review an appellate decision in a wage and hour class action lawsuit. The class action was filed against ABM Security Services, Inc. for allegedly denying security workers the proper rest breaks under California labor law. Continue reading

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A state Supreme Court’s ruling for or against an employer resolves that matter for good in that particular state. However, employers with offices all over the country need to be sure their employment practices are in line with both federal legislation and the laws of each state in which the employer does business.

CPS Security Solutions is one such nationwide company that recently faced two class action wage and hour lawsuits in California. Both lawsuits alleged security guards working for CPS were improperly denied wages for sleep time and on-call time. Continue reading

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No matter where an employer’s headquarters are located, all employees working within the United States are entitled to all the rights accorded them under various state and federal labor laws. This includes minimum wage and overtime, which mandates all employees must be paid one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week.

Tatitlek and GeoNorth, two foreign companies that contracted dozens of employees to provide training to the U.S. military, are facing a class action wage and hour lawsuit for allegedly failing to provide overtime compensation. The employees were contracted as native role-players and interpreters to train Marines in realistic pre-deployment missions. Continue reading

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There are plenty of ways employers can motivate or discipline their workers, but state and federal labor laws place restrictions on certain types of disciplinary actions.

According to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit, Amazon allegedly recently overstepped its legal boundaries by allegedly deducting half an hour’s worth of wages or vacation time if an employee was more than three minutes late to clock in. If an employee clocked in late at the beginning of a shift and then again after a break on the same day, Amazon’s system allegedly deducted 52 minutes from the employee’s vacation time.

But state and federal labor laws require employers to compensate their workers for all time spent working. In addition, any unused vacation or paid time off (PTO) accrued by the worker belongs to the worker as part of their compensation, and the employer is not permitted to make improper deductions from that time. According to the recent wage and hour lawsuit, Amazon’s alleged practice of deducting time from employees’ vacations constituted an improper forfeiture of unused, accrued and vested vacation/PTO wages. Continue reading

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Even after two parties agree to a settlement, it can sometimes take months before the court grants final approval of settlement in a class action case. It is the responsibility of the court to make sure the settlement is fair to both parties before it closes the case for good.

A recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group actually settled in August of 2014, but the court didn’t grant final approval of the settlement until January 2015. The wage and hour lawsuit involves 888 employees who worked at three of Wolfgang Puck’s major locations in California: Santa Monica, Spago in Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles. The lawsuit, which was filed in California, alleged violations of California Labor Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue reading

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Many industries have on-call practices, in which employees are required to be on the employer’s premises, or be contactable by the employer (for example, by keeping a cell phone with them and turned on at all times). Workers are generally not paid for the time they spend on call, but one recent class action lawsuit alleged they should be.

Tim M., an employee of CPS Security Solutions Incorporated, filed the class action wage and hour lawsuit against the company alleging guards should be compensated for what the company refers to as “uncompensated free time”. This is time the guards are on-call and must remain on-site (usually on a construction site). They are allegedly allowed to sleep and watch TV during this time, but they are allegedly not permitted to leave the site, even for a family emergency.

The plaintiffs argue that having guards remain on-site confers a direct benefit to CPS Security. The company specifically used the constant presence of guards as a selling point when contracting to construction companies. On the one hand, it’s counterintuitive to pay employees for time they are not actively working. On the other hand, if the guards’ activities are restricted and requiring them to remain on-site does in fact confer a benefit to the employer, then it is alleged the employer should pay the guards for that time. Continue reading