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California Labor Lawsuit Expected to Settle for $2 Million

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A California unpaid wages lawsuit is on the verge of a settlement, but not without drama and heartache, including the death of the lead plaintiff before the lawsuit could be brought to fruition.

Los Angeles, CAA California unpaid wages lawsuit that was originally filed in August, 2014 at Los Angeles before removal a year later to the US District Court for the Central District of California, may settle for $2 million if an agreement on the part of all parties in the class action meet with Court and judicial approval.

The lawsuit, which alleged unpaid wages, rounding of payroll times and failure to compensate for the donning and doffing of uniforms, has run on a bit of a bumpy road since first brought against defendant Stericycle Inc., a medical waste processor that collects, processes and then disposes of medical waste. With 28 locations throughout the state of California, over 900 class members were involved in the class action lawsuit.

Lead plaintiff died while lawsuit was in pipeline

According to Court documents, the original plaintiff in the California unpaid wages lawsuit was Sergio Gutierrez, who tragically died before the lawsuit could be brought to a conclusion. There was no reference as to the cause of his death. However, two other individuals stepped in to fill the role of lead plaintiffs in the litigation, which is also a donning and doffing lawsuit given the claim that Stericycle required employees to wear specific clothing and gear while on the job, while requiring them to undertake donning and doffing on their own time - or so it was alleged. Stericycle contends donning and doffing was performed on company time.

Court also heard allegations that Stericycle, beginning in 2015 offered individual deals to some class members in an attempt to minimize litigation exposure. Those payments, totaling $460,000 were found to have indeed been offered, and were indeed accepted by the class members involved. While acceptance of those payments does not preclude those class members from receiving benefits stemming from the proposed unpaid wages lawsuit, they will nonetheless receive a reduced settlement at the end of the day.

With new lead plaintiffs in place, lawsuit continued

Named plaintiffs Kenneth Moniz and Kevin Henshaw, both having replaced the deceased Gutierrez as lead plaintiffs in the California labor lawsuit, shared the load in driving the lawsuit forward amidst claims that Stericycle rounded time-clocks to the nearest quarter hour for pay purposes, which in turn robbed employees of cumulative pay, or so it was alleged. The defendant, according to Court documents, also rewarded employees who avoided workplace accidents by way of a point system that converted points into cash credits that allowed employees to purchase items online from Amazon. However, plaintiffs asserted that such bonus pay should have been computed with their overall pay and work time, for purposes of overtime computation.

The donning and doffing lawsuit also alleged that class members were not paid for the approximately 10 minutes they spent putting on their work uniforms, then taking them off at the end of a shift.

The California unpaid wages lawsuit also claimed the defendant stiffed class members out of statutory meal and rest periods.

The motion for approval of the proposed settlement was filed February 5 of this year. Class members are described as any employee of Stericycle who worked for the firm at any of their California locations from August 14, 2010 through September 18, 2017.

The California unpaid wages lawsuit is Sergio Gutierrez v. Stericycle Inc., Case No. 2:15-cv-08187, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.


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What about an employer who demands employees to checked in for work (clocked in) for 15 minutes of unpaid time, or they are replaced?


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