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Taco Bell Still Not Shelling Out Overtime

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Sylmar, CAHow many lawsuits will it take for Taco Bell to comply with the California labor code and shell out California Overtime? The US Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay non-managerial employees at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for each hour worked over 40 per week. Either the Act is news (!) to Taco Bell, the company thinks it is above the law, or it is just plain greedy.

Carlos was hired as a Taco Bell manager and paid a salary, which meant, according to Taco Bell, that he wouldn't be paid overtime. But Carlos was misclassified: the company violated the California labor law (and labor laws in other states) because overtime-exempt managers are not exempt if they primarily perform hourly-worker duties.

"When I was hired at Taco Bell, the area manager said that I would get about two hours of overtime per day," says Carlos. "So I was prepared to work 10-hour days, but those days soon turned into 12–16 hours a day. And these long days were becoming more and more frequent. It was very stressful."

Carlos was paid a salary that was based on an hourly wage. He was never told that his position was exempt, nor did he know that he was classified as "exempt": a tactic that many companies, including Taco Bell, employ so they can get around not paying overtime.

"I worked at Taco Bell for five years and always worked overtime," says Carlos. "Instead of paying overtime on my weekly check, my boss made me take a day off, but I never agreed to that proposal. When I decided to speak up, to tell him that was a California overtime violation, I was terminated.

"I spoke up about many issues, not just overtime. One time a family member passed away. I phoned my boss and said I needed time off. 'There is nothing I can do—find someone yourself because I'm not here to help you,' he said. Talk about a hostile work environment! I called Taco Bell HR about my overtime. Supposedly they were going to do an investigation, so I handed them my timesheets as proof, but they just ignored me.

"Two weeks after my complaint to HR I was fired—the area manager didn't have the guts to fire me. Another area manager took me to a coffee shop nearby and terminated me. The reason he gave was cash discrepancy. There was money missing in the safe but I wasn't there when it went missing—I was on vacation. I know they used this reason as an excuse because I spoke out.

"A few co-workers complained to me about their long hours without getting overtime pay, but they were too afraid of retaliation; they are afraid of losing their job—and that is very sad. They see what happened to me and it scares them even more. Lots of people were working overtime because we couldn't finish cashing out and cleaning up in eight hours.

"As well, they have us come in 15–20 minutes early and walk around the building before we go into the restaurant and clock in. We have to make sure the area is safe first—that people haven't broken in during the night; we have to make sure the parking lot is clean. And we had meetings every Thursday after work for at least an hour—we never got paid for that either.

"I sent a letter to the CA labor commission but they never replied. Then I was contacted by an attorney through Lawyers and Settlements, so maybe Taco Bell will face yet another lawsuit.…"

Taco Bell Lawsuits Nationwide—A Timeline

This past March, 2010, Taco Bell was sued in US District Court in Birmingham. Two employees accused Tacala, the Birmingham-based Taco Bell franchisee, of not paying employees for overtime hours and of falsifying records. The suit alleges that "Tacala failed to credit all of plaintiffs' overtime hours by unilaterally deducting time worked from their time records and/or regularly permitting off-the-clock hours worked." The two employees seek back pay for all similarly situated employees and former employees. (According to its Web site, Tacala employs about 3,300 people in its six states.)

In 2003, about 1,000 former employees of Taco Bell shared $1.5 million in a settlement that alleged the company violated labor laws.

In 2001, Taco Bell paid out $13 million in an overtime lawsuit. It was accused of pressing for "off-the-clock" labor and intentionally classifying employees as overtime-exempt managers despite their primarily hourly-worker duties (which they are doing again, this time to Carlos…).

Finally, in a lawsuit a judge certified as a class action in 1999, about 13,000 employees at 45 restaurants in Oregon contended that the fast-food chain violated overtime and meal-break rules.

Taco Bell denied any wrongdoing. And according to Carlos, the company is still in denial.

READ ABOUT CALIFORNIA OVERTIME LAWSUITS

California Overtime Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an employment law lawyer who may evaluate your California Overtime claim at no cost or obligation.

READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I know a guy he has 4 sons and a wife he works for Taco Bell as a area manager and because of a law I think it was a overtime law they took out his potition demoting him making lose a lot of money and has to work more hours they did this to get this to save money so not only does lose money he lose a lot of time with his family because some law of Obama the big boss had a choice to promote a him instead of demote but chose a guy he knew instead so life will be a little harder for that family because of them wanting to save money

Posted by

on
Taco bell managers street employers like shit.they take advantage of the emoyers yell at them in front of costomers for there mess ups make them do all the work while they just stand around don't give breaks does favorites to certain ppl.bit the ones that put over 40 hours gets the shityend of the deal and don't want to payo over time and cut there hours wen its payday. And always threaten to fire a person
They don't train any new ppl right and if any employer messes up on any thing they threaten them bout firing them.the managers take vantage of the employees. And yet all those employees do all the work and don't get paid good but minimum wage.u want to know wat store the one on east Broadwa y in council bluffs Iowa.those certain managers are lisha and Katelyn.and the old employees cuse the new ppl out while they also do nothing. And the costomers are never right.

Posted by

on
I am a salaried manager in texas. you see sir taco bell has done this to us for a long time we don't get breaks as salaried managers. we punch in for 40 hours even though it is mandatory we work atleast 50. this job sir is very stressful. I want to do a settlement too sir.

Posted by

on
My Husband works for Taco Bell. In addition to his 10 hour plus work days he is unable to take a break or eat a lunch. He is also expected to come in a "work/train" on his "days off". He has been there for 3 months and they are promoting him very quickly. He is already a salaried assistant.

Posted by

on
I was a Taco Bell general manager, and I went to school on the side--earning my human resource manager certification, and, a master's degree. I applied for a human resource coordinator position, way back in 2008. I was rejected, and told that I didn't have the right "qualifications." Now, Taco Bell is embroiled in overtime lawsuits which sprang up from, in large part, the actions of the human resource department. For starters, I'm actually glad that I wasn't involved in or associated with that; and secondly, the people that work there, that are "qualified," did this. Yeah, those "qualified" people sure do an excellent job, now, don't they?

Posted by

on
While working the overnight shift I never took lunches, because there was only two people available to work the shift. One for the window and the cook, which meant there was no one to relieve the other to take a lunch or break. I never clocked out, and was never paid for my hours and later found out that they were clocking me out for a lunches I did not take.

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