The proposed class of PepsiCo Inc. truck drivers requested preliminary approval from a California federal court for a $5 million settlement that, if approved, would resolve allegations leveled at PepsiCo by the drivers. Allegations against the soda giant include: failure to pay overtime, failure to provide meal and rest breaks, and failure to reimburse business expenses. All the allegations are in violation of both state and federal labor law.
Lead plaintiff, Nathaniel Helton, argued in the motion for preliminary settlement approval that the settlement is both fair and reasonable. If approved, the settlement would mean $1,988 to each of the approximately 1,800 class members who drove for one of the PepsiCo subsidiaries included in the suit.
If the settlement is approved by the court, it would mean an end to the proposed class action that was filed by Helton in state court against PepsiCo. And subsidiaries in early 2017. According to the lawsuit the drivers were required to monitor their vehicles, have their phones with them during meal break and other breaks, and in doing so, the company denied them legally mandated breaks. This also means that the company failed to pay overtime as required by labor law.
The plaintiffs in the case also claim that the company failed to cover business expenses for the truck drivers. For instance, paying for electricity required to charge phones drivers were required to keep on them, and final wages for drivers who were terminated or quit their position.
The Defendant, PepsiCo, denied the allegations. They also removed the lawsuit to federal court in spring of 2017. When the suit was moved to federal court, Helton, the plaintiff, amended the complaint to include additional claims under the FLSA and Private Attorneys General Act. Following two failed attempts at mediation, the parties involved reached a settlement in May. The deal would mean class counsel would receive $1.25 million (25% of the settlement), and no more than $65,000 in expenses. Helton would receive $7,500 as an incentive payment. The settlement also includes a $100,000 payment to resolve the PAGA claim (75% would go to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and 25% would go to the class’ fund).
If you have questions about overtime violations or other violations of California labor law, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.