Minor League Baseball Players Hoping for Home Run? A federal class action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of minor league baseball players who allege they are paid less than the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) federal minimum wage. Aaron Senne, former Marlins player and lead plaintiff in class action, together with Co-plaintiffs Michael Liberto and San Jose Giants pitcher Oliver Odle filed the lawsuit, which claims: “Most minor leaguers earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for the entire year despite routinely working over 50 hours per week (and sometimes 70 hours per week) during the roughly five-month championship season. They receive no overtime pay, and instead routinely receive less than minimum wage during the championship season.” Who knew?
Here’s the skinny—according to the minor league class action—“Since minor leaguers do not belong to a union, nothing has prevented the defendants from artificially and illegally depressing minor league wages. Indeed, MLB’s exemption from antitrust laws has only made it easier. Given that MLB carefully controls the entryway into the highest levels of baseball, and given the young minor leaguer’s strong desire to enter the industry, MLB and the defendants have exploited minor leaguers by paying salaries below minimum wage, by not paying overtime wages, and by often paying no wages at all.” The lawsuit is seeking class certification and damages for FLSA minimum wage and overtime violations, recordkeeping requirements, state wage and hour violations, payday requirements, waiting time penalties, itemized wage statement violations, unfair business practices and quantum meruit.
The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from implementing their unlawful practices and requiring them to pay all wages pursuant to state and federal law.
The named plaintiffs all wish to represent to Minor League Collective class, and classes that play in Florida, North Carolina and New York (Senne), Arizona (Liberto), and California (Odle). This should be interesting.
Is Jimmy Johns Under-Delivering on Wages? The delivery drivers think so. They filed a federal unpaid wage and hour class action lawsuit against Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich shop this week. In fact, it was filed by Scott Lewis of Witchita, a delivery driver from Witchita, Kansas. The Jimmy John’s lawsuit alleges that Bushwood Investments LLC, which owns and operates more than 30 Jimmy John’s restaurants throughout the country, failed to properly compensate its 300 delivery drivers for the use of their own vehicles, and numerous other allegations. Read on.
According to the lawsuit (Lewis v. Bushwood Investments LLC, Case No. 2:13-cv-02610, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas), Bushwood, which operates more than 30 Jimmy John’s restaurants across the country, makes its delivery drivers “use their own automobiles to deliver sandwiches and other food items to customers…Instead of compensating delivery drivers for the reasonably approximate costs of the business use of their vehicles, defendant used a flawed method to determine reimbursement rates.”
“[Jimmy John’s] delivery drivers incur costs for gasoline, vehicle parts and fluids, automobile repair and maintenance services, automobile insurance, depreciation, and cell phone use while delivering sandwiches for the primary benefit of the defendant,” the lawsuit states.
AND—the lawsuit states that Jimmy John’s delivery drivers are allegedly required to cover the costs of maintaining their vehicles in safe and in good working condition as well as paying for insurance coverage for the automobiles.
AND the lawsuit claims that Jimmy John’s does not reimburse its delivery drivers for insurance costs nor does it provide its drivers with GPS systems to use while driving but rather leaves drivers to rely on GPS systems the driver’s cell phones, for which they are also not reimbursed. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the defendant pays its employees through direct deposit or a payroll card from inTrust Bank, and so do not receive a paycheck stub which details how deductions and reimbursements are made. In order to get this information, the drivers must make special requests from the defendant.
RBS Pays Up on Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud….A consumer financial fraud class action lawsuit pending against Royal Bank of Scotland Group, PLC has reached preliminary settlement,with the bank agreeing to pay $275 million.
The lawsuit was brought by New Jersey Carpenters Vacation Fund et al against the financial institution alleging it misled investors regarding mortgage-backed securities.
Specifically, the lawsuit relates to over $15 billion of the issued mortgage-backed securities which the plaintiffs claimed were sold despite not meeting underwriting guidelines. No comment.
Ok—that’s it for this week—see you at the bar!
Hashtag Privacy Please! Naughty, naughty! Facebook’s allegedly been peeping into your privates—messages that is…which, a potential class action lawsuit claims, is in violation of federal and state laws.
Filed by two Facebook users against Facebook the lawsuit alleges the social media platform scans messages between users labeled “private” for links and other information that can be sold to third parties including advertisers, marketers and data aggregators. The Facebook lawsuit is seeking class action status, with a potential 166 million Facebook users in the US eligible to join the class, if it is certified.
Plaintiffs Matthew Campbell from Arkansas and Michael Hurley from Oregon filed the lawsuit in a US district court in Northern California, alleging Facebook data mines “private” messages without disclosing it does so, or seeking users’ consent. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges Facebook’s intercepting and using links in “private” messages between users is in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and California privacy and unfair competition laws.
“Facebook’s desire to harness the myriad data points of its users has led to overreach and intrusion … as it mines its account holders’ private communications for monetary gain,” the lawsuit contends.
Great start to the New Year guys!
Holy Hyundai! (ok, bad, I know) A preliminary $395 settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action pending against Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors alleging gas mileage rating were overstated by the automotive manufacturers. The settlement will affect some 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the US.
The back story? ….In November 2012, Hyundai and Kia Motors agreed to restate expected gas mileage for 1.1 million vehicles in North America, following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers admitted they after overstated mileage claims on vehicle window stickers for 900,000 vehicles in the United States. The settlement impacts about 600,000 of Hyundai’s 2011-13 models and about 300,000 of Kia‘s 2011-13 models in the U.S. Hyundai’s settlement is valued at up to $210 million, while Kia’s is valued at $185 million.
The 2012 restatement reduced Hyundai-Kia’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 27 to 26 mpg for the 2012 model year. Individual ratings, depending on the car, will fall from 1 mpg to 6 mpg. Most vehicles saw combined city-highway efficiency drop by 1 mpg, the Detroit News reports. Exact figures will depend on how many customers elect to participate in the settlement’s one-time lump sum payment option or remain in the lifetime reimbursement program, the automakers said.
The Hyundai Kia settlement will resolve more than 50 lawsuits filed across the country to address the issue. Hyundai agreed to add the option of taking a lump sum payment. The proposed cash amount, which varies by vehicle model and ownership type, will result in an average payment of $353 to Hyundai owners and lessees. For example, an owner of a 2012 Elantra would receive a lump sum payment of $320 minus any previous reimbursement payments. For Kia owners, the proposed average cash lump-sum amount will be about $667.
A federal judge is expected to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval in early 2014. If approved, settlement notices will be sent to individual class members. To get the full skinny on initial details of the settlement, you can visit hyundaimpginfo.com or www.kiampginfo.com.
Royal Health to Shell Out a Royal $1.94 Million …in unpaid overtime. Yup. A preliminary settlement has been reached in an unpaid overtime class action lawsuit pending against Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC. Employees who filed the class action alleged the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state labor laws by not paying them overtime pay.
In their employment lawsuit, the 411 plaintiffs allege Royal Health misclassified their positions as Representative, which are exempt from the overtime provisions stipulated under the FLSA and NYLL, and thereby failed to pay Plaintiffs overtime when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Under the terms of the Royal Health settlement, the Royal Health will pay $1.94 million to plaintiffs who worked eight weeks or more, between May 2006 to May 2013. If approved, funds will be distributed proportionally among the Class Members based on number of weeks each worked at Royal Health Care. An incentive award of $10,000 each will also be given to the four original named plaintiffs.
A Fairness Hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2014. The Royal Health Care Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit is Chandrakalli Sukhnandan et al. v. Royal Health Care of Long Island LLC, Case No. 1:12-cv-04216, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Happy New Year! Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2014 for all.
Paycheck Rounding Error? Seems unpaid overtime is a popular theme these days. This week, a new unpaid overtime class action lawsuit was filed in the City of St. Louis on behalf of current and former nurses and medical professionals employed by BJC Healthcare System for violations of Missouri’s wage and hour laws and other violations of Missouri law. The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime and straight-time wages resulting from BJC’s wage and hour practices. The lawsuit is entitled Speraneo v. BJC Health System Inc., d/b/a BJC Healthcare.
The BJC class action lawsuit alleges that BJC failed to properly pay employees for all time worked through its time recording policies and failed to pay overtime compensation to employees working over forty hours per week.
BJC’s timekeeping rounds down the amount of time employees work to the nearest quarter hour, despite having the exact times employees clocked into work and having computerized documentation of exact work times. This practice deprived employees of pay for compensable work time in violation of established work time regulations.
BJC automatically deducts time for meal breaks resulting in employees, such as nurses, not being paid for time actually worked. The lawsuit alleges that BJC knew that its employees, such as nurses, worked during the automatically deducted break time and as a custom and practice failed to pay employees for such compensable work.
The lawsuit also alleges that BJC failed to properly compensate employees for shift differential bonuses and pay overtime compensation at statutorily required rates of pay.
A sweet ending for Hershey employees? Seems that way—if a preliminary $500,000 settlement gets the green light. The preliminary settlement has just been approved in a California unpaid overtime and wage and hour class action lawsuit pending against Hershey.
The Hershey lawsuit alleges that the class members are owed wages including unpaid overtime and minimum wage pursuant to several sections of the California labor law and are owed premium pay for missed meal and rest periods also pursuant to various Labor Code sections. The lawsuit further claims that the class is entitled to “waiting time” penalties, and penalties for non-compliant wage statements and payroll records pursuant to various Labor Code sections, and that they are entitled to reimbursement for business expenses.
The lawsuit is brought by Shelley Rodrigues on behalf of herself and other similarly situated who were or are employed as retail sales merchandisers, as well as all other current and former hourly-paid or non-exempt merchandisers or person who held similar job titles and/or performed similar job duties in California.
The settlement class is defined as all current and former hourly part-time retail sales merchandisers employed by the Hershey Company in California at any time between July 23, 2008 and June 3, 2013, the Class Period.
Time for Honda to Feel the Burn? This is a biggie…Honda looks as if it’s ready to pony up some cash over a defective automobile class action lawsuit pending against it. The Japanese automaker was sued over allegations it made over 1.59 million vehicles that burn oil excessively and also require frequent spark plug replacements. That’s convenient.
The Honda lawsuit, filed in March 2012, alleges the Honda vehicles had a “systematic design defect that enables oil to enter into the engine’s combustion chamber.” The alleged defect led to “premature spark plug degradation and engine malfunction,” court documents state.
The lawsuit claims that Honda was aware of the problem but failed to notify consumers, allegations Honda denies, despite having issued a technical service bulletin notifying its technicians to check for the defect. The auto maker did not issue a recall because a safety issue was not discovered.
The preliminary Honda class action settlement includes all US purchasers and lessees of 2008-12 Accord, 2008-13 Odyssey, 2009-13 Pilot, 2010-11 Accord Crosstour and 2012 Crosstour vehicles equipped with six-cylinder engines that have variable cylinder management. Accord vehicles with four-cylinder engines are not included in the settlement.
Settlement terms include Honda extending the powertrain limited warranty for up to eight years after the original sale or lease of the vehicle. The preliminary settlement approval was given October 9, 2013, and the final fairness hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2014.
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Have a good one—see you at the bar!
A lot of questions we receive here at LawyersandSettlements.com have to do with employment…things like what counts as on-the-job harassment, whether or not someone is owed overtime pay, and questions about wrongful termination. One of the trickiest areas of employment though has to do with misclassification—i.e., whether someone’s position is considered exempt or non-exempt. We discuss misclassification in greater detail on our Unpaid Overtime-Employment info hub on our website. But beyond what most people consider to be the difference between exempt and non-exempt—that exempt jobs don’t qualify for overtime pay while non-exempt ones do—there are other things you should be aware of if you’ve recently been switched over or promoted into an exempt position.
Exempt positions tend to be ones that pay a salary rather than an hourly rate. For many, the chance for what could be a higher rate of pay and no longer “working on the clock” makes pursuing exempt positions worth the trip. Here though are eight protections that an exempt job status deprives employees of—provided by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations (you can find this info at your own state’s department of labor).
Prius Brakedown? Toyota’s making headlines again this week, over a national consumer fraud class action lawsuit, alleging consumer fraud related to its Pre-Collision System (PCS) in its high-end Prius Five vehicles.
The Prius lawsuit states that Toyota represents in its marketing materials and owner’s manual that the PCS employs radar to sense an unavoidable frontal collision, and then if needed, automatically applies the brakes to prepare for the accident. The PCS is part of an advanced technology package option that usually sells for over $5,000. The PCS option is believed to make up approximately $1,000 of that cost. Whoa Nellie!
The lawsuit claims that purchasers did not receive what Toyota represented with the PCS. Specifically, in vehicle testing by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the Toyota Prius was one of only two models that failed to get any rating, leading the IIHS to state: “The Toyota Prius V wagon, which claims to have autobrake, had minimal braking in IIHS tests and currently fails to meet NHTSA criteria for forward collision warning. It doesn’t qualify for an IIHS front crash prevention rating.” Ok—now you have me.
The lawsuit is Lee v. Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc, in the United States District Court of California, and is seeking to force Toyota to reimburse owners for the cost of the PCS and to force Toyota to discontinue marketing that the PCS provides automatic braking. Go get’em!
So That’s What MileagePlus Means… United Airlines got hit with a potential deceptive business practices class action lawsuit this week. Filed by two Jersey City, NJ residents, the lawsuit claims the airline uses an algorithm that modifies the number of miles needed for an award, depending on the number of frequent flyer miles the person has. Umm.
The federal United MileagePlus lawsuit was filed by Robert Gordon and Melissa Chan who claim United Airlines attempted to charge each of them different amounts of miles for the same hotel room last year when they were booking a trip together. Both are members of United’s MileagePlus rewards program. (who isn’t?)
According to the lawsuit, in August 2012, Gordon tried to use his miles to book a three-night stay at a hotel in Japan. Using United’s website, he was informed it would cost him 40,750 miles, which exceed the amount of points he had in his account, but was fewer than 41,733 miles in Chan’s MileagePlus account.
According to the lawsuit, Chan subsequently decided to book the same room for same dates using her miles instead. However, when she tried to do so only several minutes later, United’s website required her to use 44,500 miles, or 3,750 miles more than what it attempted to charge Gordon. To book the hotel room, Chan had to pay $26.10 to buy the additional miles that United charged her.
The lawsuit states that Gordon then called United, but was told the airline uses an algorithm that modifies the number miles needed for an award, depending on the number of miles the person has. They claim United was deceptive in not disclosing this alleged practice. Well, this ought to be interesting….
Motel 6 Checking Out of Unpaid Overtime Class Action Lawsuit…Actually, they’ve settled, tentatively, for a reported $890,000. Announced this week, the proposed Motel 6 settlement could end the pending wage and hour class action lawsuit entitled Monica Gould et al v. Motel 6 Inc. et al, case No. 2:09-cv-08157 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California Central Division.
The lawsuit was brought by past and present Motel 6 employees who allege the company denied them meal and rest breaks, failed to pay wages upon termination and neglected to provide properly itemized wage statements.
Specifically, the wage and hour lawsuit, brought in 2009, claims Motel 6 is in violation of the California Labor Code, the Business & Professions Code, the Wage Order and the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004.
Motel 6 and G6 Hospitality Inc, the two defendants in the class action, deny any and all liability, but have agreed to settle. The class includes all current and former nonexempt employees employed by Motel 6 between March 25, 2006, and July 17, 2013, an estimated 18,280 members. Previously, Motel 6 and G6 Hospitality, which were formerly known as Accor North America, settled another class action in March 2006, reducing the current class to its present size, court documents indicate.
The final settlement hearing is scheduled for November 4, 2013.
Good Night Irene!
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. Have a good one—see you at the bar!