National Implications of Unpaid Home Care Overtime Lawsuit?

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A Los Angeles County unpaid home care overtime lawsuit could have national implications. The Ninth Circuit Court recently ruled that home care providers paid through the state or county can file suit for unpaid overtime citing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Prior to this case, workers paid by the state or county to provide home care were exempt from overtime laws at both the state and federal level.

The introduction of a new Department of Labor (DOL) regulation changed the scenario in 2015, but the change didn’t occur without some kickback. The new regulation was set to go into effect on the first day of 2015, but a federal court in Washington, D.C. blocked it. This ruling was overturned later that same year. In response to the legal action, the DOL decided the new regulation would not be enforced until Nov. 12, 2015 (even though it was initially set to go into effect on January 1, 2015).

In California, compliance with the new regulation was pushed until February of 2016. This prompted an LA County home care worker (In-Home Supportive Services (HSS) program employee) to file a lawsuit to recover 13 months of unpaid overtime (overtime that would be due in accordance with the original “effective” date of the new regulation, Jan. 1, 2015). LA County moved to dismiss arguing that the county was simply acting as part of the larger state and under the 11th amendment, had immunity in this situation.

District court ruled in favor of LA County and stated that home care workers could not recover wages from prior to Nov. 12, 2015, the date “enforcement” started. Both parties filed an appeal, escalating the case to the Ninth Circuit Court.

The Ninth Circuit Court judge maintained that the county had 11th amendment immunity and also that home care service providers could file suit to recover unpaid overtime wages earned as of the original Jan. 1, 2015 effective date of the new DOL regulation. The ruling could mean a significant financial blow for LA County since the county currently employs an estimated 170,000 home care workers in the IHSS program. Additionally, the implications could easily reach outside of this particular case in this specific county. The ruling could open the door to further collective actions filed by home care workers employed through various government programs with more collective actions likely to pop up in different counties.

William A. Dombi, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) disagrees. He went on record stating that holding county-level government employers liable for overtime wages during a time period when federal court specifically vacated the requirement is unfair. He also noted that any impact would be limited by the two-year limit on filing FLSA actions.

If you have questions about overtime violations or if you need to discuss your rights as an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik and DeBlouw LLP today.

Infosys Facing Allegations of Failure to Pay Overtime

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A former employee of Infosys, Anuj Kapoor, filed an overtime lawsuit against the company. It is not the first and will likely result in a US Department of Labor investigation. Kapoor was involved with a CVS project in Rhode Island and filed suit against the company in June. Kapoor alleges that Infosys made him work over 1,000 hours of overtime without providing him with overtime pay.

Kapoor, plaintiff, alleges that he worked an estimated 1,084 overtime hours for the company between May 2015 and June 2017 and that they were over and above his weekly 40 hours. He also alleges that the overtime hours worked resulted in zero compensation. Not only was not provided accurate overtime wages, but he was not provided any wages for the additional hours at all.

Kapoor isn’t the only employee of Infosys who has made this type of allegation against Infosys. Infosys has run into overtime claims before. The company paid $26 million in 2008 to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The payment settled a previous investigation into allegations of unpaid overtime.

The company, Infosys, denies the allegations. They not only insist that Kapoor’s allegations are unfounded, but they state that they will defend themselves in the action. Infosys’ spokesperson states that they comply with employment law throughout the United States. Additionally, the Defendant noted that the current case based on Kapoor’s allegations has no connection to past allegations and that the decade-old case in California has no relevance to the current case.

Infosys is not the only Indian IT company that has faced overtime lawsuits from their employees. Wipro, another Indian IT company, was sued by one of their employees for unpaid overtime. In the current regulatory environment in the United States, lawsuits and complaints are definitely raising concerns and companies operating in “gray areas” are finding that allegations cannot be ignored or easily swept aside.

If you need help seeking overtime pay from your employer or if you have questions about overtime regulations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

KBP Foods Fighting Suit Claiming Labor Law Violations

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Six employees of Overland Park-based KBP Foods LLC filed a lawsuit including allegations that the giant OP fast-food franchisee purposefully used faulty equipment for timekeeping. The suit claims that the company’s timekeeping system utilized a thumbprint scanner that consistently malfunctioned, which prevented their employees from clocking in when starting their shift or ending a break. Employees cite a failure to pay overtime wages, failure to pay minimum wage and failure to pay employees for all wages earned on the job.

The company owns 581 different restaurants throughout the country with KFC and Taco Bell being the most recognizable. In fact, the suit claims that KBP Foods is the largest KFC franchisee in the nation. KBP is accused of knowingly using equipment that failed to properly record time for employees’ shifts due to frequent malfunctions, including overtime hours. The lawsuit also alleges that corporate officers went so far as to put a policy in place that required employees to clock out but remain on site to complete standard (and required) closing operations.

Due to the company’s policy, many store managers consistently deleted hours worked from employee time cards/sheets in order to deprive them of wages and overtime pay for hours they completed on the job. The plaintiffs allege the company did so in a willful act intended to reduce labor costs for the company and earn incentives paid to management for maintaining overall labor costs below a designated threshold.

According to the lawsuit, when the thumbprint scanner fails to clock an employee in for their shift or at the end of a break, the manager on duty is supposed to manually enter the info into the restaurant’s back office computer, but this was rarely if ever done, resulting in employees who were underpaid and/or not paid for overtime hours worked. The timekeeping system in place also made it necessary for managers to run reports daily after the registers were closed. Plaintiffs allege that managers have the employees clock out prior to shutting down the registers in order to run the day’s reports; leaving the employees working off the clock for the closing procedures.

Plaintiffs in the suit seek class action status. They seek payment of unpaid wages, overtime wages, attorney fees and other compensation that the court deems appropriate.

If you have questions about California labor law or if you are not being paid overtime wages you have earned, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Southern California Car Wash Company Allegedly Cheated 800 Workers Out of Overtime Pa

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A southern California car wash mogul, Vahid David Delrahim, will pay back $4.2 million in back wages and penalties after allegedly cheating 800 workers out of overtime pay and destroying evidence. The decision followed a two-year court battle with federal authorities.

The Los Angeles native failed to provide workers at a dozen different California locations with minimum wage or overtime payment. The car washes were located in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. The consent decree was approved by the U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin ordering Delrahim to pay:

·      $1.9 million in back wages

·      $1.9 million in damages to workers

·      $400,000 in civil penalties

The case is being called a landmark case as it sends a powerful message to employers that the Department of Labor will use powerful law enforcement and litigation tools to protect employees and level the playing field for law-abiding employers. According to the judgment, Delrahim ordered his employees (many of whom are Spanish speakers unfamiliar with U.S. and/or California labor law) to work off the clock at the start of each shift. He also ordered them to clock out when business was slow but remain at the car wash for when business picked back up. This resulted in many hours on site without payment.

The back wages ordered by the court cover a period from 2013 to the present. It’s possible that more workers will be added to the case resulting in more money as the identity of all workers at all 12 car washes is not currently known. Delrahim was told to provide more names, addresses and workplace records within 30 days. The info was originally requested by the prosecutors in the case in 2016. The judgment will result in the employees receiving over $10,000 in back wages.

If you have questions about off the clock work or overtime payment, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Proposed Class Action Against Sally’s Beauty Supply

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An ex-Sally Beauty Supply LLC employee, Rosie Nance, filed a proposed class action against the company in Florida federal court. Nance claims she was not provided with fair overtime pay despite regularly working more than 40 hours per week, including bank deposits conducted on her lunch breaks.

Nance filed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit in July including allegations that from April 2015 through February 2018, she was not compensated by Sally Beauty Supply at the state-mandated time and a half for extra hours she worked over 40 per week. She filed suit on behalf of herself and other nonexempt employees at the company in similar positions.

Nance was employed by Sally Beauty Supply from February 2006 through February 2018. According to the filed complaint, she was employed to provide customer service at retail outlets.

Nance claims in the complaint that while she was required to perform off the clock work by making bank deposits on behalf of the company during her lunch breaks, she was not provided payment as required by labor law. In the suit she specifically stated that the work was “directly essential” to the company and its successful business practices.

Additional claims were lodged by Nance in the complaint, including: the company failed to maintain proper time records, and the company failed to apprise her of her rights under FLSA.

Nance filed suit to seek back overtime pay at the standard rate as required by law, and additional damages and attorneys’ fees as necessary. Sally Beauty Supply is not the only national retailer facing claims of off the clock work due to lunch break bank deposits. T-Mobile, Dollar Tree, and Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. are all facing similar claims.

If you have questions regarding what constitutes off-the-clock work or if you feel you aren’t being paid overtime as required by law, please get in touch with one of the California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Changes to a $2M Settlement Between Costco and Class of Drivers

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A California federal judge, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo, granted preliminary approval after changes to the $2 million settlement between Costco and the proposed class of truck drivers while holding on to lingering concerns about the class counsel’s representation. The class of truck drivers originally alleged they were denied proper meal breaks and overtime pay.

The updated settlement agreement made adjustments to accommodate most of the issues that led to it being denied preliminary approval to the deal twice, but the judge still questioned whether or not the proposed class counsel was acting in the best interest of the drivers and whether or not the $2 million settlement amount/deal was a fair one.

One reason the judge first denied approval to the deal was that members of the class were required to release their FLSA claims. Proposed class counsel William Turley responded that is was okay that the drivers’ FLSA claims were dropped because they were basically worthless. In the updated settlement deal the drivers are split into a Rule 23 class and an FLSA collective that any drivers who wish to can opt in to. The Rule 23 settlement is estimated at $1,320,750. The FLSA settlement is estimated at $146,750. The settlement amounts clearly show that Turley’s argument that the FLSA claims were basically worthless was wrong. This situation led the judge to question Mr. Turley’s motivation for the false statement and the potential that he may have sought to keep the funds himself through an excessive attorney fee request. The judge also questioned Turley’s credibility in identifying the settlement amount as “fair.”

After the judge granted preliminary approval, she made it clear that doing so would not keep her from revisiting the questions she still had about the case during the hearing seeking final approval.

Unpaid overtime is one of the most common concerns in the American workforce. If you have concerns about unpaid overtime or if you are misclassified as exempt, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

$5M Deal to End California Truck Drivers’ Overtime Suit Against PepsiCo

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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.