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Former and Current Workers Launch Unpaid Wages Class Action against Hertz Corp.

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Los Angeles, CASometimes it’s unpaid wages: other times it’s a donning and doffing lawsuit, where plaintiffs allege they were not paid for time spent suiting up in uniforms or protective gear, a process mandated by the employer but often not included in the employee’s wage compensation. In this case, one former and two current (as of July) employees of a Hertz Corporation outlet in the greater Los Angeles area quietly filed a class-action lawsuit alleging off-the-clock work.

According to the Los Angeles Times (7/13/15), the plaintiffs accuse Hertz Corp. of creating small branches with an equally small number of employees, and yet mandated those employees to maintain supervision over what were described as “sizable” rental fleets and a substantial customer base, or so it is alleged. The plaintiffs decry that such a workload made it impossible to take their legally mandated meal breaks and rest periods under California labor law.

In fact, according to the report, plaintiffs were required to clock out for meal breaks they never had time to enjoy, having to continue working through their meal breaks and were not paid accordingly, or so it is alleged.

One of the plaintiffs in the unpaid wages claim said in comments published in the LA Times that management at her place of employ would require her to clock out. However, plaintiff Chalissa Johnson claims that in spite of clocking out, she was made to remain on duty to help various customers at the Moreno Valley location where she was stationed.

What’s more, she was not allowed to clock back in, in spite of continuing to work. “I got into [the job] thinking it would be better for me and my daughter,” Johnson said, in comments to the LA Times. “I was wrong.”

Johnson, who is a single mother, also told NBC4 (7/10/15), “I was forced to clock out and to stay behind and still work and it was very difficult,” she said. “My daughter is special needs, it forced me to quit, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said in a press conference announcing the lawsuit. Johnson left Hertz after six months. Two other plaintiffs were still employed at the time the Unpaid Wages lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

NBC4 referenced a UCLA Labor Center study, which estimates that more than 600,000 workers in LA County are victims of so-called wage theft, working without regular or overtime pay and losing meal breaks. LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis has said minority women like Johnson are frequent victims.

The alleged labor violations have occurred since at least 2011. And while about 150 workers were employed by Hertz in the Los Angeles area, an unpaid wages attorney familiar with the case noted that the class-action California unpaid wages claim could potentially apply to hundreds if not thousands of workers similarly affected in neighboring counties.

In a statement appearing in the LA Times, Hertz said, “We take the well-being of our employees very seriously. We are not able to comment until we have completed a review of the complaint and an investigation of the allegations.”


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