$3 Million Unpaid Overtime Class Action Settlement from JP Morgan

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In a recent unpaid overtime class action settlement, JP Morgan Chase & Co. will pay $3 million to class members. The settlement will end claims made in a class action lawsuit alleging that the company failed to provide mortgage bankers with overtime compensation.

The unpaid overtime settlement was approved by Illinois federal judge Susan Cox. Under the settlement agreement, the class of close to 2,000 bankers will receive compensation for unpaid overtime in case. The settlement covers $1 million in attorneys fees and an enhancement award for the lead plaintiff totaling $1,000. It will also cover appropriate administrative and court costs.

Mortgage bankers in the class claim the company did not compensate them for overtime between April 5th, 2014 and November 30th, 2017. The representatives claim that the company’s overtime payment practice was in violation of both state and federal labor laws.

35% of the qualifying class members in the case submitted claims for settlement compensation. According to the settlement terms, JP Morgan Chase keeps any settlement funds left unclaimed. The judge approved of the deal, noting that it seemed like a good deal from the perspective of the court, and that given the allegations that were made in the case and the defense presented, it was a good resolution. She also found it significant that no qualifying banker objected to the settlement.

According to allegations, JP Morgan Chase used a system of base pay plus commissions for their mortgage bankers. Internally the pay structure was referred to as “incentive pay.” Yet bankers allege the system did not account for the fact that many of them worked over 40 hours per week. They claim they were not compensated for time spent working outside of the normal, full time, 40-hour work week.

Bankers were allegedly required to keep track of their hours by recording them in the company’s computer system. They were also required to record an unpaid lunch break (that many claim they spent working). Allegations were made that the system as it was set up did not allow mortgage bankers to record time spent working during the evening. Additional allegations were made that the company failed to pay earned commissions within a 13-day window as required by Illinois state law.

If you have questions about overtime, overtime compensation or how overtime payment should be calculated, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Overtime Settlement For Health Workers Gets Final Approval

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Health workers were granted the requested final approval on an overtime settlement in their class action lawsuit against the Defendant Health Resource Solutions (HRS). Allegations were made that HRS failed to pay legally required overtime to healthcare workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Sources report that the healthcare company misclassified a group of clinicians, registered nurses, occupational therapists, and other therapists, categorizing them as exempt from overtime pay. The judge noted that the $900,000 overtime settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate. He also made note that it seemed in the best interest of the class members who were settling.

The settlement would include covering:

·      $7,878 – settlement administration expenses

·      $300,000 – attorney’s fees

·      $7,500 – to the class representative

·      70 additional claims that were filed prior to the parties’ cutoff on April 2nd.

The class representative is plaintiff Monique B. One class member opted out of the deal with no other objections made. The plaintiff and the Class allege that HRS was in violation of both the FLSA and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law by misclassifying their employees that work with patients on a homecare basis as exempt. The settlement will end the litigation brought by the hybrid class and the collection action brought forth by Monique against HRS and co-owners of HRS, Robert M. and Glenn S.

The allegations in the original complaint indicated that the company, HRS, and the company’s owners knew that the employees being classified as exempt did not actually meet the necessary qualifications for the classification. In order for an employee to be legally classified as exempt, they must demonstrate the worker performs job duties that meet certain criteria and that they received compensation on either a salary or fee basis. According to the complaint, HRS created its own pay structure for workers.

·      Office time and staff meetings were compensated on an hourly basis.

·      Advancement was set for visits’ pay.

·      Travel time, scheduling/coordinating patient care with providers/speaking to patients about scheduling was not compensated.

·      Additionally, overtime weeks to which employees worked but were not compensated totaled 10,000 employee weeks.

The allegedly misclassified employees included 175 people. It has been reported that HRS will first cover employee claims and any settlement money remaining will be retained.

If you are considering filing an FLSA class action lawsuit or if you have questions about being misclassified, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility Faces Employee Claims of Asbestos Exposure

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On February 20, 2018, a former employee of MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility (YCF) filed a lawsuit claiming exposure to asbestos-containing materials. The plaintiff alleges that the facility’s management knowingly allowed staff (and young offenders assigned to the location) to be exposed to asbestos-containing materials while they worked on a project to upgrade campus cottages and buildings. The plaintiff, John N., advised the media that he was knowingly exposed while he spent close to a year and a half supervising a group of youth helping out on some MacLaren YCF remodeling.

The remodeling project was approved by Oregon State Legislature in 2015. The plaintiff was ordered to replace wallboard panels that had been removed in an in-process campus cottage in February 2017 by his supervisor, Mike B. Mike had discovered there was an unexpected tour of state officials. He is a named defendant in the case. He was heard by the plaintiff explaining that he didn’t want the officials to discover the asbestos-containing materials in the walls of Kincaid Cottage.

The plaintiff was alarmed by the information and was floored that management had not advised anyone of the situation. John alleges that after his supervisor made this confession to him and a painter on site, they were put on administrative leave. He was accused of assisting minors on site in concealing items that were not allowed at the facility while he supervised teams of youth working on the remodel.

John, the plaintiff, filed a complaint with Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) within the month. A fine was levied against Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) for dual violations of the Oregon Safe Employment Act. OSHA’s investigation also found negligence on the part of OYA in notifying employees about the presence of the asbestos-containing materials he, other workers and the youth crews were exposed to on site. The organization was also found non-compliant in providing necessary employee training regarding asbestos.

John N. was also fired only days after OYA was formally fined. As retaliating against an employee is also in violation of employment law, John is asking for damages amounting to $935,000.

If you have questions regarding an unsafe workplace or if you are experiencing retaliation in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Class Action Lawsuit Over Lowe’s Weak Fund for 401(k)

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Employees of Lowe’s hardware store who participate in the 401(k) plan claim that the company chose a weak fund that lost plan members money. Benjamin Ritz, plaintiff, alleges that he had all his retirement funds invested with Lowe’s. He further claims that he was financially injured due to Lowe’s choice to move over $1 billion from eight other investment funds into one other fund: Hewitt Growth Fund. Lowe’s made this move on the advice of Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting Fund. Ritz also claims that if Lowe’s had not moved the funds, plan participants would have made $100 million more.

Ritz further claims that this situation represents a violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Ritz seeks damages for himself and other plan participants who were similarly affected by Lowe’s funds transfer. Ritz would like to force the companies to pay for the participants’ losses, force Hewitt to disgorge profits related to the transfer of funds and stop Lowe’s from further investments in the Hewitt Growth Fund in the future.

According the ERISA class action lawsuit, Lowe’s moved the plan funds on the advice of Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, the owner of the Hewitt Growth Fund. Plaintiffs claim that this behavior was self-serving. They were encouraging the transfer to support the fund, which was exhibiting poor performance. The plaintiff claims that Hewitt put its own interests ahead of the interests of plan participants, which is in violation of ERISA. The plaintiff also alleges that Lowe’s should have been more vigilant – considering quality and reliability of the information received from the advisor, particularly considering Hewitt’s conflict of interest.

The company’s plan reportedly has approximately $5.2 billion in assets, 250,000 participants and has been taking investment advice on their 401(k) plans since 2009.

If you have questions about mismanagement of your plan’s funds or if you suspect your employer of ERISA violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

$6M PG&E Wage Deal Leaves Judge Suspicious

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Preliminary approval was granted for a $6 million settlement struck between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and company employees alleging their paychecks were shorted, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean is wary as it appears that the union is hiding something. After giving an early sign-off to the proposed agreement, the judge ruled that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245 must disclose how much they are paying into the settlement prior to it being finalized. PG&E call center employees allege that the union does not fairly represent them as members.

The judge noted that the hardest part of the workers’ unopposed motion for approval of the deal method of notification to employees about amounts PG&E and the IBEW would each pay into the fund. The judge brought notice to the fact that the union was the only party that objected to the contribution disclosure. The union’s desire to keep their contribution amount undisclosed greatly troubled the judge. Judge Grosjean stated that without disclosure workers would assume payment came from PG&E.

The judge didn’t see any legitimate reason for delaying disclosure of the amount paid until after the settlement is finalized. It gave the impression that the union the information could affect the workers’ decision to accept the settlement’s terms. The judge also stated that the situation left the impression that the union may plan to bury the information eventually disclosed in annual financial reports where workers would not notice or pay attention to the information.

The lawsuit was originally filed in July 2015, alleging:

·       PG&E violated California’s labor law.

·       PG&E failed to pay all wages owed.

·       PG&E falsely advertised wages on a website for a customer service position.

·       PG&E had a consistent policy and practice of failing to abide by the IBEW’s collective bargaining agreement.

The proposed settlement would apply to workers hired for the call center from January 2022 through June of 2015 with a minimum of 18 months of clerical job experience and who were affected by the alleged violations. It is alleged that 175 workers would receive close to $20,000 each because their work experience qualifies them for a higher wage rate. Other workers would receive $250.

If you have questions about California labor law violations or if you need assistance with wage and hour violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Morrison & Foerster Faces $100M Pregnancy Bias Lawsuit

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Three associates out of California allege that Morrison & Foerster LLP delays payment and promotion opportunities to female attorneys that schedule maternity leave or use the working mother benefits provided by the firm. The $100 million proposed class action was filed in May 2018. According to citations online, claims are based on the allegation that the firm has an “old boys’ club” culture (Law360).

The three associates sued under a pseudonym (J. Doe) in San Francisco federal court. The plaintiffs claim that expected promotions and pay increases were held at bay when they took (and returned from) maternity leave yet the attorneys’ hourly billing rates were increased as they would be if they received the expected promotion.

Other claims include:

·      Male attorneys and female attorneys who are not pregnant/have no children are offered more access to partners and mentoring allowing them to stay on track for partnership.

·      The practice noted above means that women are vastly underrepresented amongst senior levels at the firm.

·      Standard procedure at the firm when an associate is pregnant is to hold her back from advancement with her peers and deny opportunities for progression and/or pay increases.

·      The firm is aware of the problems and has not taken the necessary remedial measures to current problems or prevent future infractions.  

Each of the three associates that filed the complaint work at one of Morrison & Foerster LLP’s California offices, but the firm has four California locations and the document did not specify which one employed the women.

The firm does offer a number of benefits and programs that are designed to improve the situation for working mothers: parental leave, adoption leave, parental transition time upon returning from leave, backup caregiving, flexible work options, a reduced hours program, etc. The existence of the various programs seems to support and encourage female employees to take up to six months off for maternity leave.

In reality, the associates claim that women who take advantage of maternity leave or are working mothers advance through the firm’s ranks at a significantly slower rate than their peers. They are also paid less than the male associates.

If you have questions about pregnancy bias in the workplace or if you have experienced gender discrimination on the job, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

$9.2M Settlement Could Resolve Driver Wage Claims

A number of trucking companies including Roadrunner Intermodal Services LLC agreed to pay $9.2 million in order to end claims made in California federal court by a putative class of truck drivers. The 796 California drivers in the class claim that they were misclassified as independent contractors. Defendants in the case are: Roadrunner, Central Cal Transportation LLC and Morgan Southern Inc. Drivers in the class worked for the various transportation companies as independent contractors from February 2011 to the time of the proposed settlement. Class members would receive $7,255 on average if the proposed settlement is approved.

Drivers allege that the trucking companies should not have classified them as independent contractors. They allegedly should have been classified as employees and therefore should have been provided with overtime wages, benefit from minimum wage requirements, separation wages, business expenses, meal and rest breaks, and accurate wage statements. Allegedly, the companies failed to fulfill these requirements in violation of a number of state and federal labor laws. The trucking companies deny the alleged violations.

Three different groups of drivers sued the Defendants with similar allegations over the course of three years:

·      February 2015, California state court – moved in April 2015 to federal court

·      September 2015 in federal court

·      January 2016

The above three cases were combined in early 2017. The putative class’ counsel estimated the maximum amount of damages faced by the drivers at $77 million. Yet the drivers are aware that there is no guarantee that they would receive anywhere close to this amount if the case were to proceed to certification and trial. Additionally, there is no guarantee that defendants would be capable of paying anywhere close to that estimated maximum considering the companies’ financial situation.

The motion for preliminary approval estimates that the class members participating in the suit would have access to $5.8 million after fees for attorneys, etc. are deducted. As long as the qualifying workweeks remain unchanged at 41,846 the drivers should receive approximately $140 per work week that is eligible.

If you need assistance with wage claims or you fear that you aren’t receiving accurate wage statements or overtime pay as required by law, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.