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Taco Bell Sued on Class Wide Basis For Allegedly Failing to Provide Meal Breaks

In order to discourage employers from overworking their employees, federal law requires that employers provide all of their hourly nonexempt employees with the proper overtime compensation of one and one half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours in a week. In addition to this law, which applies to all employees working in the United States, most states have their own labor laws to regulate employment in that state. For example, California requires all of its employers to provide their hourly workers with at least one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break lasting at least half an hour. According to the law, this break must be provided prior to the end of the employee’s fifth consecutive hour of work.

A recent class action wage and hour lawsuit has been filed which alleges that Taco Bell has failed to provide its hourly employees with the requisite meal breaks in a timely manner. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2007 by Lisa Hardiman and Sandrika Medlock, two former employees of the fast food chain. The lead plaintiffs alleged that, in violation of California labor law, employees working at Taco Bell were denied their meal break until after they had been working for at least five hours.

The lawsuit filed by Hardiman and Medlock was later consolidated with two other class action wage and hour lawsuits against Taco Bell. The plaintiffs petitioned for, and received, class action status.

Rather than continue to fight a legal battle that has already been going on for seven years, the two opposing parties involved in this lawsuit have decided to settle the case. Settlements are common in class actions, particularly when the outcome is uncertain. Legal battles (particularly large ones) have the potential to drag on in the courts for years, piling up legal fees for both sides. It is usually in the best interests of the defendant to settle a class action lawsuit because, if the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the defendant could be stuck paying an extremely high court-ordered award, in addition to legal fees. By settling the case before the court has a chance to rule, the defendant has the option to negotiate for a smaller amount.

Likewise, it is usually in the best interests of the plaintiffs to settle the case, because that way, they are certain to receive some compensation. Like the defendants, plaintiffs who continue to fight in court run the risk that the court will rule against them, in which case they will receive no compensation and they will have to pay all of their legal costs. According to the court documents, “The court certified the meal period claim because Taco Bell implemented and enforced a common meal period policy/procedure that failed to provide class members with timely meal periods as required under the California Labor Code.”

The class covers all nonexempt hourly employees who worked for Taco bell in California any time between September 7, 2003 and July 1, 2013. In order to qualify for the class, employees must have worked more than six hours in a day without receiving a meal break until after they had been spent more than five hours working.

The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, 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 Park Ridge and Des Plaines. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Waukegan and Kankakee 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 mis-classify 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.