Legal representation for US Airways in the California class action overtime lawsuit filed in 2012 requested that the federal judge hearing the case on January 13th, 2017 reject overtime claims brought by the certified class of US Airways fleet service agents. The company claims that the unionized workers’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as well as the Railroad Labor Act (RLA) makes the workers involved in the suit exempt from some state labor laws.
The attorney argued that it is not uncommon for state legislatures to remove RLA collective bargaining agreements because of interstate commerce concerns and that these concerns are often applicable to flight crews. In a January 26th motion, it was requested that the court consider legislative history materials in regards to Assembly Bill 60 concerning overtime exemptions. It was argued that the legislative history does not support the plaintiffs’ arguments that the collective bargaining exemption in the California Labor Code is in conflict with the RLA exemption. Legal Representation pointed out the plain language of the two statutes failing to indicate a conflict.
The judge will need to rule on an October 2016 motion filed by US Airways legal counsel to decertify “grace period” fleet workers that were previously certified in 2014. These workers claimed they should have received payment for work during “downtime” required between clocking in and clocking out. The company stated that workers were free to do as they wished during the unpaid time and that in some cases they had enough time to fulfill preparatory duties on the clock. The judge found that discovery suggested that requests for compensation in regards to putting on gear (“donning and doffing”) were handled differently depending on the airport. The judge also questioned the difference between the estimated time for “donning and doffing” as offered by the opposing attorneys. Plaintiffs indicate five minutes is necessary, but the judge questioned the accuracy of the estimate. US Airways attorneys suggest the task can be completed in less than a minute.
If you have questions or concerns regarding off the clock work or unpaid overtime, please get in touch with an experienced southern California employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.