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Warehouse Workers Achieve Multi-Million Dollar Settlement for Unpaid Meal Breaks


Ever since a group of women filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for allegedly discriminating against employees on the basis of gender, the retail company’s reputation as an employer has suffered. A slew of other labor lawsuits have been filed against the company since then. Recently, a group of warehouse workers settled a class action lawsuit against Schneider Logistics. Although Wal-Mart was not included as a defendant in the lawsuit, Schneider Logistics is one of Wal-Mart’s biggest contractors and the warehouse contained merchandise for Wal-Mart.

Schneider Logistics employs 568 workers at its warehouse in Mira Loma, which was contracted by Wal-Mart to handle merchandise sold in its stores across the nation. According to the lawsuit, Schneider allegedly denied its employees meal breaks and rest periods. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide workers with one unpaid meal break, lasting at least half an hour, for every five hours that the employee works. For every four hours that the employee works, the employer must provide a paid rest break of at least ten minutes. For every day that the employee does not take one of these breaks, the employer is required to pay the employee for one hour’s worth of wages.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all 568 employees who worked at Schneider’s Mira Loma location for the past five years, during which time the employees were allegedly denied their federally mandated breaks. The lawsuit alleges that, in that time, Schneider routinely altered employees’ time cards in order to make it look as though the workers had taken their breaks, when in fact they had not. In this way, Schneider cheated its employees out of their rightful pay for hours that they spent working for the company.
Schneider Logistics and the class of warehouse workers have recently reached a settlement of $4.7 million. Although the amount that each class member can expect to receive has not yet been reported, labor leaders involved in the issue are calling it a victory for the workers. “We are pleased that hundreds of workers who moved merchandise in Wal-Mart’s largest warehouse complex in the Western United States have won back $4.7 million in stolen wages owed to them for years of honest work,” said Guadalupe Palma, the director of Warehouse Workers United. “The brave workers who came forward to expose a deep pattern of abuse and fraud in Wal-Mart’s largest contracted facility risked their jobs and their livelihoods, but today they are vindicated.”

A federal judge has reportedly approved the settlement, which means that the class members can expect to receive their share of the settlement shortly. Whether Schneider agreed to admit to any wrongdoing as a condition of the settlement has not been reported at this time, but it is unlikely. In general, defendants look to settle lawsuits in an attempt to avoid a long and expensive court battle without being legally required to admit to any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, spending millions of dollars to pay off a wage and hour lawsuit sends a strong message.

The Chicago class action and employment law lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by large corporations such as Wal-Mart and Schneider Logistics for misclassifying employees as managers or assistant managers, failing to pay for meal breaks, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Waukegan and North Chicago. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Rolling Meadows and Kenosha overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.