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Employer Accused of Coercion in Overtime Pay Lawsuit

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Mira Loma, CAAn employer who faces an overtime pay lawsuit has also been accused of coercing employees. The employer, a contractor for Wal-Mart, is accused of using misleading tactics to interview employees about their unpaid overtime claims. A judge has found that the interviews regarding working conditions, including unpaid overtime, are not admissible in court and cannot be used to defend the employer in the overtime lawsuit.

Thomson Reuters (3/29/13) reports that attorneys for Schneider Logistics met with the contractor’s employees and interviewed them about working conditions at the company’s warehouse. But the employees were reportedly not told that any information they gave could be used against them during their lawsuit against Schneider. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2012, included allegations of unpaid overtime as a result of an alternative workweek schedule, and violations of meal and rest break provisions.

According to The Press-Enterprise (3/28/13), shortly after the lawsuit was filed, employees were called into meetings with company officials and the company’s attorneys. Although the employees were told the meetings were voluntary, they were asked to sign legal documents at the end of their sessions.

United States District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder found that the meetings were “fundamentally misleading and deceptive,” because Schneider could have used the signed statements against plaintiffs in court. Employees may not have understood that their statements could be used against them.

As a result, Schneider cannot use the sworn declarations taken by the attorneys from employees in the lawsuit. Furthermore, the company is barred from communicating with class members unless it has permission from the court.

Schneider has reportedly accepted the judge’s ruling.

Meanwhile, writers for the E! television show Fashion Police have filed a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement alleging they are owed back pay and unpaid overtime totaling $1.1 million. The complaint was filed against E! and Rugby Productions, owned by Joan Rivers. In addition to $1.1 million in owed wages, the writers seek $400,000 in damages, according to The Inquisitr (4/17/13).

E! has said it pays its writers fairly and in compliance with the law.

The Schneider lawsuit is Franklin Quezada v. Schneider Logistics Transloading and Distribution, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 12cv02188.

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