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Off-the-Clock Work Lawsuits Combine to $9 Million in Settlements

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Fort Worth, TXTwo separate unpaid wages lawsuits that alleged off-the-clock work required of employees before their paid workday even began, have recently settled and the settlement amounts approved. Combined, the settlements add up to $9 million: $3 million in a settlement reached with defendant SuperMedia Inc., and $6 million in a similar settlement reached last April and approved in recent days against TD Bank NA.

Regarding the latter, named plaintiff Aubrey Keller alleged in the off the clock work lawsuit that defendant TD Bank NA required that two employees arrive early to the job site each day in order to undertake various procedures to open the branch for business. Amongst the requirements were various security functions that needed to be performed both inside and outside the branch before the branch computers could even be booted up for the day’s activities.

Only when the computers were booted and the employees logged in to the TD Bank NA system, were the plaintiffs in a position to access the timekeeping system observed by the bank and clock in.

The unpaid overtime lawsuit, which was later joined by a second named plaintiff, claimed that such activities took between 15 and 20 minutes to complete each day. Over a five-day week, the work would combine to an hour and fifteen minutes at minimum, to an hour and forty minutes at the outside.

The regular, mandated off-the-clock work saw no compensation from the employer, according to the allegations in the lawsuit (Keller v. TD Bank NA et al, Case No. 2:12-cv-05054, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania).

The unpaid overtime lawsuit was filed in 2012 and after a year of litigation, entered into settlement talks with the help of a mediator. Six months after the settlement was reached and granted preliminary approval, the $6 million settlement was given the blessing of the Court in October. “[The Court] finds that the joint stipulation of class settlement and release…is fair, reasonable, and adequate and resolves a bona fide dispute between the parties,” said US District Court Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, in his order.

Named plaintiff Keller was granted a service payment of $7,500, while co-plaintiff Alyxandria Maria Garcia was awarded a service payment of $2,500.

SuperMedia Inc. is hit with a $3 million settlement bill

Named plaintiffs in the unpaid wages claim against SuperMedia Inc., which publishes amongst other products a yellow pages phone directory for Verizon Communications Inc., are Byron Jones, Fred Jones, James Jackson and Kenneth Todd Boston. Through their unpaid wages attorney, the plaintiffs submitted a motion asking US District Judge Jane A. Boyle to authorize the $3 million settlement.

“Given the vagaries of the Jones plaintiffs’ claimed time, the difficulties inherent in establishing off-the-clock time worked by any method of exact precision, and the difficulties of asking jurors to determine the number of hours worked by plaintiffs on a person-by-person basis for a three-year period of time, the parties agree that this is a fair and efficient method of calculating each named plaintiff and opt-in member’s pro rata share of the settlement funds,” the motion states.

Byron and Fred Jones, as well as Jackson and Boston, will each receive $5,000 in compensation over and above an amount identified as $5,848 for other plaintiffs who were party to the unpaid wages claim class action. An additional 34 plaintiffs who failed to co-operate fully during the discovery process will receive $100 each in compensation.

The awards do not include attorney’s fees. Those fees will be taken care of by way of a $1,146,864.28 stipend from the overall settlement total.

The unpaid wages lawsuit was brought in the summer of 2011 after plaintiffs claimed the defendant failed to allow for commission payments in protocols for the calculation of overtime, allegedly shortchanging employees in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other applicable statutes.

The unpaid wages claim amounted to work performed off the clock, which appears to be a growing trend fueling litigation and many a donning and doffing lawsuit. The latter is an all-encompassing term that relates to functions required by an employer in order to perform a mandated job function, such as powering up computers and logging in to systems and programs, or donning and doffing protective gear required by the employer.

Plaintiffs have always maintained that such requirements and processes, if mandated by the employer as required in order to perform a job, should be a paid function and not fall within an employee’s personal time. Many plaintiffs have also claimed that such practices eat into their meal breaks and rest periods, entities mandated under the FLSA and compensable should employees be required to work through mandated breaks.

In this case, the alleged incorrect computation involving commissions effectively shortchanged SuperMedia employees of overtime, or so it was alleged in the unpaid wages lawsuit.

SuperMedia is best known for its SuperPages brand. The lawsuit is Palmer et al. v. SuperMedia Inc. et al., Case No. 3:11-cv-01467, in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

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READER COMMENTS

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I also worked for TD bank and was required to do the same come in early and bout the compters and check the office before the second employee could enter the bank. I also was an assistant manager and worked more than 40 hrs without overtime pay.

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