In California, wage and hour claims are more common than wrongful termination, ERISA and discrimination claims. No wonder California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is the largest state wage-and-hour state enforcement agency in the country. The Washington Post reported more than 8,800 wage and hour lawsuits filed in 2015, which amounted to a 358 percent increase over the same type of filings that occurred in 2000. As well, settlements skyrocketed: In 2011, the amount paid to settle class-action lawsuits filed by employees totaled just over $200 million. By 2016 it was over $600 million.
So why the huge increase in wage and hour lawsuits? Attorneys believe a lot has to do with the Labor Department cracking down on misclassification of independent contractors; updating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that makes millions more people eligible for overtime; and minimum wage hikes. As for settlements, it’s easy to see why: in California they are likely to be successful. NERA Economic Consulting reported that in 2019, the average settlement value for a wage and hour case increased to $8.2 million, a 64% increase from the 2018 average and a 51% increase from the 2017 average.
Note to employers: it doesn’t pay to ask employees to work during their lunch breaks. Under California law, an employer may not permit an employee to continue working through their lunch break or remain “on-call” during that time. No doubt former Shamrock Foods drivers, Community Hospice of Modesto employees and Breakfast Republic workers know the California labor law is on their side.
Former truck driver Jason Bell accused Shamrock Foods Co. of arbitrarily calculating meal and rest breaks while requiring drivers to deliver food without them. Drivers had to "constantly" unload cargo and make deliveries without breaks while the company would arbitrarily record the drivers' time as time taken off for meal breaks and rest periods, according to Law360. His proposed class action, which has been removed to California federal court, claims:
- Meal and rest break labor code violations;
- Failure to pay and account for overtime and all wages;
- Failure to pay all wages owed upon termination;
- An unfair business practice claim under the California Business and Professions Code.
The wildly popular eatery with seven locations in California has been slammed with a class action lawsuit by its employees for failing to:
- pay minimum wages;
- pay overtime wages;
- provide required meal and rest periods;
- reimburse for required business expenses;
- provide wages when due;
- provide accurate itemized wage statements;
- provide tips and/or gratuities.
READ MORE CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW LEGAL NEWS
Community Hospice of Modesto
The class action complaint filed by current and former employees of Community Hospice of Modesto alleges unpaid wages over a 19-month period, despite the organization recognized recently as one of the best places to work in the region. Tyeisha Travis claims the nonprofit hospice:
- Failed to pay overtime and other wages;
- Did not provide required meal breaks and rest periods;
- Underpaid for sick time;
- failed to reimburse for required business expenses.