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Unpaid Wages Lawsuits Filed against Food Processors

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Clovis, CATwo food processors face unpaid wages lawsuits alleging they failed to properly pay employees for all time spent in work-related duties. Included with the unpaid wages claims are allegations against one of the companies that employees were improperly charged for their uniforms. The lawsuits seek class-action status.

According to the Fresno Bee (1/29/15), both Leprino Foods and Wawona Frozen Foods face potential class-action lawsuits filed by employees alleging they were not properly paid for the time they spent putting on and taking off safety gear. The lawsuits allege that not only are employees not paid for time spent donning and doffing their safety gear, they also do not receive their proper breaks because time spent dressing and undressing for their shifts cuts into their break time.

Among the gear employees are required to wear are plastic aprons, smocks, earplugs and other protective gear. The lawsuit against Leprino alleges employees were improperly charged for uniform and equipment costs without employee consent.

Claims against Leprino also include allegations that 30-minute lunch breaks were shortened because employees had to clock back in, often involving waiting in line, and allegations that workers did not receive all required breaks, including a second 30-minute break for work shifts that were longer than 10 hours.

In 2014, a lawsuit against National Beef was settled for approximately $350,000. That lawsuit also alleged employees were not paid fully for all time spent in work-related duties, including removing protective gear or cleaning equipment. The lawsuit alleged employees were paid only for time that the production line was moving. When the production line was not moving, or when employees were not on that production line, they were not paid.

Also in 2014, Tyson Foods was ordered to pay $4 million to employees who alleged they were not properly compensated for time putting on and taking off protective gear. Although employees were paid an additional four to seven minutes for time spent donning and doffing their safety gear, judges found that employees actually spent almost 30 minutes per shift engaged in unpaid work-related activities.

Meanwhile, more lawsuits involving dancers at strip clubs have been filed around the US. Lawsuits were recently filed against Atlanta and Oregon strip clubs, alleging dancers were improperly misclassified as independent contractors when they were in fact employees. Among allegations were that the dancers were not paid minimum wage or overtime, that there are unpaid wages owed to them, and that they often had to give back some or all of their earnings in the form of stage rental, security and/or DJ costs. Several lawsuits involving strip clubs have been successful for the plaintiffs recently, either resulting in settlements or resulting in verdicts that dancers should have been considered employees and were entitled to minimum wage and overtime.


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