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T-Mobile Retail Workers Reach Wage Deal under California Labor Law

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T-Mobile USA Inc. and California workers have agreed to settle alleged wage and hour violations for $8 million.

Santa Clara, CAT-Mobile will pay $8 million to settle California labor law violations. The telecommunications company allegedly failed to pay minimum and overtime wages; and compensation for off-the-clock work, and didn’t provide workers proper meal and rest breaks.

The T-Mobile retail workers asked a federal judge on October 29 to okay a deal that would resolve allegations of California wage violations.  Emmanuel Salgado filed the proposed class action in February 2017, and in August 2019 the parties discussed settlement with a mediator. According to court documents, T-Mobile filed a settlement notice on September 30.

The proposed class involves all T-Mobile employees in California who were paid hourly wages and worked in retail locations. Law360 reports that the $8 million non-reversionary settlement fund will cover $2.4 million in attorney fees, up to $70,000 of attorney costs, $15,000 as class representative payment to Salgado, and a $300,000 Private Attorneys General Act payment.  This trickles down to each class member receiving almost $5 for each week worked in the unspecified class period, so the average class member receives about $560, with the highest settlement payment ringing in at  $1,700. (The case is Salgado v. T-Mobile USA Inc., case number 1:17-cv-00339, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.)

T-Mobile is no stranger to the courtroom.  Back in June 2012, a class action that initially commenced in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego accused the company of illegally delaying some retail employees’ final wages and other state employment law violations. The plaintiffs David Kogok, Noe Perez, Xavier Pulido, and Jennifer Ramano are current and former RSAs who alleged they were undercompensated by T-Mobile.

In October, 2013, a California federal judge kicked back to state court the class action, reasoning that -Mobile failed to show that the case met the requirements for federal jurisdiction. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the telecommunications giant failed to show that the case involved more than $5 million or that T-Mobile was based in a different state than the California plaintiffs, and  returned the case to San Diego County Superior Court where it started.

Under the California labor code, an employer who "willfully fails to pay" any wages due to an employee who is discharged or quits is subject to waiting-time penalties, equal to up to 30 days wages from the date that the final wages should have been paid.

In yet another class action, FRANCESCA GONZALES, et al. Plaintiffs, v. T-MOBILE, USA, Inc., et al. Defendants United States District Court, S.D. California, in August 2014 plaintiffs filed a class action “on behalf of all employees who worked for Defendants  [T-Mobile] in California within four years prior to the filing of this complaint until the date of certification, and who earned and/or received commissions and/or bonuses and/or incentives as part of their regularly-scheduled compensation on service contracts, renewals and/or merchandise sales."  The complaint states that in October 2013, plaintiffs served discovery requests on Defendant, which were "designed to find and detect alleged errors in T-Mobile's commissioning system.”
And in February 2019, a tentative approval of $980,000 was reached to settle alleged wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiff Jesse Black claimed he and other field technicians were denied overtime compensation, minimum wage and proper meal and rest breaks. He argued that T-Mobile’s “on-call” policy required them to be available to take calls and didn’t allow them to use the time for their own purposes. Bloomberg Law reported that T-Mobile USA “paid the technicians a flat stipend of $24.57 to be on-call from 5 p.m. to 7:59 a.m. the following day when their next scheduled shift began, so field technicians were paid less than $25 to be available for 15 hours, the motion said. Black alleged that they should have been compensated for all the “on call” hours because they were under T-Mobile’s control.

The settlement includes an estimated $594,580 to pay class members; $10,000 for administrative costs; and a payment of $18,750 to the Labor Workforce Development Agency under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004.
 

T-MOBILE AND SPRINT MERGER – TERMINATIONS?


Currently, some retail employees and technicians may have more to worry about than wage violations – they may not have a job following the T-Mobile and Sprint merger.

“T-Mobile Workers United, with about 500 members and backed by the Communications Workers of America and the German union ver.di, urged Hoettges [Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, and Deutsche Telekom owns a 63% stake in T-Mobile ] to make solid and verifiable assurances that jobs will be safe, paychecks will not shrink and management will not interfere in union activities,” according to Reuters (Sept 4, 2019). T-Mobile’s deal to buy Sprint for $26 billion faces a court challenge from 15 states and the District of Columbia who argue that the planned merger will mean higher prices for consumers. The trial is set for December 9.

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