Wage & Hour Settlement In Case of Nurses Classified as Exempt

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A settlement was proposed to settle a wage and hour class action lawsuit alleging that nurses and other medical personnel were misclassified as exempt by Health Resource Solutions Inc. The plaintiff group included both registered nurses and clinicians. The proposed settlement was for $738,000 to close out the overtime class action lawsuit.

The case was founded on the allegations that 79 workers were wrongfully classified as exempt from overtime. Both parties involved in the case agreed on the settlement amount. The plaintiffs noted that estimate distribution amounts to claimants should represent close to 90% of maximum individual claims for overtime wages (exclusive of liquidated/other damages under FLSA and IMWL). April 19th was set as the final approval hearing for the settlement.

The company, Health Resource Solutions, will retain $162,000 of the original proposed settlement amount of $900,000. The amount of the proposed settlement was reduced after a smaller number of plaintiffs became claimants (only 79 of the expected 175 that was originally estimated). The unclaimed settlement funds totaling $162,126.77 will be kept by Health Resource Solutions.

Plaintiffs’ counsel requested that the judge approve legal fees to be taken out of the settlement fund totaling $300,000. The fee was 1/3 of the original settlement amount but will be 41% of the final settlement fund if the request is approved. Attorneys argued that their actions resolved the case prior to incurring the expense of lengthy class action litigation, trial costs, and likely appeals to the court’s decisions.

Monique B. originally filed the complaint in 2016 alleging that the company, HRS or Health Resource Solutions, wrongfully classified their employees – leaving them exempt from overtime they legally deserved. This was done in violation of both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL). In order for an employee to be legally classified as exempt they must meet very specific requirements.

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.

$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.

Walmart Class Action Suit: Cashiers Allege Retail Giant Knows Seating is Feasible

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In early January 2018, the 80,000 member class of Walmart cashiers alleging that the big box store was in violation of state law due to the failure to provide them with seating on the job made the notable claim that when the company provided seats to cashiers with disabilities, they conceded that seating for cashiers was feasible. This claim that the company has already (through their actions towards cashiers with disabilities) acknowledged that the work of a Walmart cashier permits seating was made in California federal court in support of allegations in their suit.

The class argued that in light of last year’s California Supreme Court ruling that companies are required to provide seats if the work can be done sitting down, the big box store’s obvious acknowledgement that the work can be completed while sitting leaves them with no excuse for not allowing all their cashiers to sit.

When determining how best to accommodate cashiers with disabilities, both Walmart’s safety and compliance department and Walmart’s own Americans with Disabilities Act experts tested and later approved ergonomic reaches and ranges of motion relevant to the work of a seated cashier stationed in the ADA check-out lanes. Walmart chose the specific seat to be offered to disabled cashiers themselves in order to ensure that the situation would be acceptable for both the company’s findings regarding required work and situational necessities.

The action was originally launched by Lead Plaintiff and former cashier, Kathy Williamson, in the Superior Court for Alameda County in summer of 2009. It was moved to federal court at a later date. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila granted the motion to certify class in 2012, finding that there was a common nature of work amongst the California Walmart cashiers. He also concluded that a trier of common facts could pinpoint exactly what designated tasks could be performed while cashiers were seated.

The Defendant appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit. The appellate court affirmed the decision in June. This was just two months after the state Supreme Court defined the state’s seating rule in the Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy Inc. decision. In this decision, the court determined that employees must be provided with seats if the work they are completing can be done in a seated position even if they aren’t performing the same task all day long. The class of Walmart cashiers argued that the Kilby decision controlled the case and that Walmart has shown on numerous occasions that being seated would not prevent their cashiers from performing their duties (i.e. Walmart productivity study, and study on negative perception in 2007). The case is scheduled to go to trial in fall 2018.

If you have questions about class action lawsuits or if you feel unfairly treated in the workplace, please contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP to discuss potential violations.