2019 saw at least ten multimillion-dollar private class action settlements in the wage-and-hour law arena, along with a couple of multimillion-dollar government settlements. While several of the largest settlements involved California, wage-and-hour cases appear to be becoming more common across the nation. The total value of the top 10 wage-and-hour settlements last year was almost double the total value of the top 10 cases in 2018.
Has your employer been paying you all the wages you earned?
All of these top 10 settlements involve issues that could occur in Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. And, cases like these are being certified as class actions despite the legal challenges involved in achieving class certification. Being certified as a class allows plaintiffs to present common evidence and trends instead of having to prove each individual’s claim separately.
Here are some of the issues involved in these multimillion-dollar private settlements:
- Security officers claimed their employer failed to provide required meal and rest breaks. $100 million.
- Drivers said they were misclassified as independent contractors, depriving them of the wages and benefits they were entitled to as employees, including expense reimbursement. $100 million.
- Drivers claimed a company misrepresented what income would be available to them after completing an in-house training program. $99.8 million.
- Thirty-eight thousand bank tellers alleged they were not paid proper overtime compensation. $35 million.
- Thousands of fast food workers claimed they were not paid proper wages for the hours they worked. $26 million.
- Product distributers claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors and thus denied employment benefits. $22.5 million.
- Ride-hailing drivers complained they were misclassified as independent contractors, which denied them the minimum wage and employment benefits. $20 million.
- Delivery drivers claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors, denying them the minimum wage and overtime pay. $16.5 million.
- Oil refinery operators claimed their employer denied them required rest breaks. $15.25 million.
- Telephone customer service representatives claimed their company refused to pay them for required pre-shift work. $15 million.
In addition to the private settlements, there were at least two multimillion settlements achieved by governments:
- The New York Department of Labor settled with a company accused of refusing to pay overtime wages and making fraudulent financial reports to cover up the issue. $6.25 million.
- The U.S. Department of Labor settled in an investigation alleging underpayment of the prevailing wage, overtime and fringe benefits. $2.77 million.
Have you been denied your lawful meal and rest breaks? Shorted on overtime or even the minimum wage? Not paid for required work that comes before or after your shift?
In many cases, employers deny workers their lawful pay and benefits by misclassifying them as independent contractors. If you have been told you are an independent contractor, you should be aware that your classification may be wrong. Whether you are a contractor or employee is a legal question; it’s not something your employer can dictate.
These issues are very common and may be costing workers millions of dollars every year. If you are concerned that you are not being paid fully for your work due to overtime violations, denied break or another similar issue, it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with an experienced employment law attorney.