Tentative Class Certification Offered to Thousands of Wells Fargo Employees in Meal Break Row

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Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Brian C. Walsh, a California state judge, granted a tentative class certification to thousands of Wells Fargo workers. The employees claim that they were not paid appropriately (in accordance with employment law) for missed mealtimes. They also claim that Wells Fargo did not provide pay stubs as required. While the judge tentatively granted class certification, he did end up withholding his final ruling after hearing the bank’s argument that it used an individualized system to document meal premiums for their workers and that the individualized system does not support this type of class wide litigation.

Silvia Hernandez, former Wells Fargo customer service representative, filed the motion to certify two classes in the litigation. The banking giant, Wells Fargo, opposed the motion. Prior to the hearing, the judge issued a tentative written decision to both parties that he was going to grant the motion. But after the hearing, the judge stated that he needed to give the matter additional thought. He specifically said that he wasn’t actually changing the “tentative,” but that he was going to think about the matter.

The two classes off workers that Hernandez proposed in the motion were divided into two categories: a class based on the lawsuit’s wage settlement claims, and a class based on the second claims focused on the meal break violations. Most of the arguments during the hearing focused on the second of the two claims: meal break violations.

Hernandez, the original Plaintiff in the case, alleges that when Wells Fargo pays one of their non-exempt workers for a meal break that was missed, they base the pay on the worker’s hourly pay, but that the missed meal break pay should actually be calculated based on the worker’s total pay or compensation which would include bonuses. The bank claims that their calculations are based on self-reporting done by workers on an “honor system.” Thus, since they don’t verify the information provided by the workers – there’s a question regarding whether or not they can be held legally responsible for legal claims related to the amount of pay.

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