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Workers Sue Employer for Off-the-Clock Work

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Bellevue, OHWith increasing frequency, the typical Unpaid Wages lawsuit is centered on the question, “at what point does work time actually begin?” To that end, there appears to be an uprising amongst workers who claim that donning and doffing gear mandated by the employer or staff meetings where attendance is required should be part of an employee’s compensable work day.

That’s the crux of an unpaid wages claim recently filed by employees of Windsor Mold USA, a subsidiary of Windsor Mold Group Canada. Employees at two of the company’s facilities in Bellevue, Ohio, allege they were not compensated for daily, mandatory staff meetings that occurred prior to the start of their shifts.

The meetings, it is alleged, routinely ran 20 minutes in duration. It is further alleged that the meetings were indeed required by the employer, and as such, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), should have been compensated at a rate that would reflect overtime, given that time spent in meetings would have pushed them beyond 40 hours in a standard week, therefore making the meetings compensable as overtime hours.

The employee’s unpaid wages attorney noted the claim is retroactive three years.

According to the Norwalk Reflector (Ohio, 10/9/13), the two plants involved are Precision Automotive Plastics and Autoplas. About 200 to 300 employees are involved in the Unpaid Wages lawsuit.

“The pre-shift meetings at issue begin 20 minutes before a shift is scheduled to take over operation of a plant, attendance is mandatory, and employees must be on-time,” the lawsuit states. “Employees who arrive even a few minutes late are subject to disciplinary action, up to, and including termination. Yet, plant operators are specifically instructed not to include the 20 minutes spent in the pre-shift meeting on the sign-in sheet on which they calculate their wages. Consequently, plant operators are being routinely and regularly shorted for 20 minutes of pay for each shift worked. Worse yet, those whom the unpaid 20 minutes causes their workweek to exceed 40 hours are being deprived of overtime pay at one and one half times their base rate, as required by the FLSA.

“The action seeks such unpaid wages owed to the class of employees, a declaratory judgment that the meetings are compensable time, and an injunction to prevent future deprivation of wages for the required meetings.”

Off-the-clock work is quickly becoming a common scourge amongst workers who feel they put in a sufficient number of hours on behalf of their employer, without working extra hours for free. Such is the allegation over activities that are mandated by the employer and are not optional. To that end, if any activity required to perform a job - whether that be donning safety equipment, protective gear or uniforms, or staff meetings or security checks with participation mandated by the employer - should be viewed as work hours and properly compensated as such, or so the lawsuit alleges.

The unpaid wages claim was filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

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