Under California law, an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, which includes all time that a worker is under the company’s control.
UPS is also under fire for allegedly failing to compensate California warehouse workers for time spent undergoing security checks. According to ClassAction.org, UPS required warehouse employees to go through security checks on their way in and out of the premises, including during lunch and rest breaks. The time workers spent waiting in line, undergoing security screenings, and walking from the screening area to the time clock was not counted as hours worked and therefore not compensated by UPS. This lawsuit, originally filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, has since been removed to the Northern District of California. Case 3:19-CV-07551-RS was filed in November 2019.
According to court documents, this time spent passing back and forth through security constitutes a type of control exerted over workers and such time therefore should be compensated. The lawsuit argues that UPS workers are owed minimum wage, or overtime where applicable, for all hours spent adhering to the defendant’s security requirements.
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that since workers were under UPS’ control during part of their lunch and rest periods, the defendant did not abide by the California Labor Code’s requirement that employees be “relieved of all duties” during these breaks. As a result of the defendant’s security checks, employees’ breaks were shortened to less than the 30-minute meal breaks and 10-minute rest periods required by state law, the case contends. The lawsuit argues that workers should have been paid an hour’s worth of compensation at their regular rate for each non-compliant meal or rest break.
UPS Violating Federal and State Labor Laws
On the east coast, a proposed class of seasonal workers accused UPS Inc. of violating federal and state labor laws, in a lawsuit filed in New York federal court. Temporary “seasonal helpers” Lalynda Hedges and Zyaire Simmons worked at UPS facilities in New York during the 2018 and 2019 “peak season,” which runs from mid-October to mid-January. They claim that UPS failed to pay them minimum, regular or overtime wages.
Toxic Environment – “Culture of Fear”
It would appear that UPS is a toxic environment nationwide and not only wage and hour issues. In December 2019, Bloomberg reported that a “Culture of Fear’ Grips UPS…Workers Say Injuries are Underreported”. An injured worker in a UPS New Hampshire branch was placed on a package cart by company managers and then rolled to the parking lot where he was then taken to a hospital, according to a government report.
One day after the accident, UPS contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In its report, OSHA said that UPS failed to maintain a safe workplace, criticized the company for failing to call emergency services, and alleged that moving the worker, who had “visibly broken bones,” endangered his life.
According to Bloomberg Law, the reluctance managers showed to call for medical attention is not unusual, gleaned by interviews with workers and dozens of lawsuits Bloomberg Law reviewed. Workers also accuse management of retaliating against those who do report accidents, creating a “culture of fear,” according to one warehouse worker. UPS denies the accusations.
A similar incident occurred in California. Shaun Medina, a former UPS sorter and unloader, filed a lawsuit in In a California Superior Court, describing how UPS processes and deals with injured workers: deny care and threaten discipline or termination. Medina claims he injured his shoulder while unloading 80-pound-plus packages for hours from a truck in January 2017 and went to a safety supervisor to file an incident report. According to Medina’s lawsuit, the supervisor told Medina to drink tea and return to work “since it was costly on UPS to do anything else for him.” He didn’t document the injury. After one month of asking to see a doctor, UPS authorized Medina to visit a provider, where he received a 20-pound lift restriction.
Medina’s lawsuit claims managers ignored the doctor’s note, made him work with the injury, then threatened his employment.
Pressure on UPS Employees
READ MORE CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW LEGAL NEWS
United Parcel Service Inc. employs 399,000 workers and moves 3 million packages each day.