It is not uncommon for employers to get away with unfair deductions from the wages of employees because individual workers do not know that the same thing is happening to their colleagues. Then, when they realize that they are not alone, they typically find it easier to stand up for their employee rights. Every California worker is entitled to be paid for the hours he or she works, and a class action lawsuit is one way to get unpaid wages.
This might have been the opinion of approximately 220 current and former garbage truck drivers in San Diego who filed suit against the city for deducting 30 minutes of wages for lunch breaks every workday. Drivers claim they are expected not to stop working to have lunch, but to eat while they are on their trash-collection rounds. This class action lawsuit was filed in San Diego in 2014.
The city recently announced that it would pay the drivers $500,000 to settle the dispute. However, officials say this agreement does not include the admission of any wrongdoing. The city says it decided to settle to avoid further risk for taxpayers. Reportedly, the settlement amount is to cover legal fees and unpaid wages going back as far as 2011.
When California workers believe their employee rights are being violated in any way, they are entitled to seek legal counsel to answer their questions and explain the laws. A lawyer will first assess the circumstances before suggesting steps to remedy the situation. Employers sometimes think employees will not fight back because they do not have the means, but an experienced employment law attorney will know how to level the playing field and find the best possible solution.
Source: sandiegouniontribune.com, “San Diego trash truck drivers get $500K to settle wage lawsuit against city“, David Garrick, Oct. 5, 2017