Flight Attendant Wage Suit Results in $1.9M Deal

by Norman B. Blumenthal on January 8, 2018

In early December, three flight attendants asked a federal court for preliminary approval of Cathay Airways Pacific Ltd.’s $1.9 million deal. The deal would resolve litigation alleging Hong Kong Air was in violation of a number of California wage and hour laws.

Crew members involved in the litigation were: Margaret Tumampos, Jonathan Lam, and Connie Lai. The three sought a California federal court’s blessing for the settlement for their proposed class and representative action. The suit accused Hong Kong Air of improper paycheck deductions. The deal is expected to offer an average payout of around $2,800 dispersed throughout the class of approximately 445 members. A mediator involved in the case proposed settlement and it is expected to receive preliminary approval.

blumenthal nordrehaug & bhowmik, southern california employment law, southern california employment law attorney, wage suit, California wage suit, wage lawsuit, California wage lawsuit, flight attendant wage suitThe suit was originally filed in October 2016. Tumampos based allegations in the suit on experiences as a flight attendant for the airline on flights from Cathay’s California bases to Hong Kong. Cathay’s bases in California are in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tumampos alleges that the airline unlawfully deducted Federal Insurance Contributions Act and California State Disability Insurance taxes from cabin crew members’ wages and then failed to provide the workers with required meal and rest breaks. Tumampos alleges the airline was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the California Labor Code and the state’s Unfair Competition Law.

The amended complaint in January added two additional plaintiffs (Lam and Lai) and included additional claims for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act. The airline argued that the deduction claims were preempted/barred by law and that the meal and/or rest break claims did not apply extraterritorially.

The judge agreed in part, tossing the meal and rest-break related claims, but allowing employees to move forward with claims related to improper withholdings. After the parties participated in mediation in August, they reached a settlement. The court was alerted within the month. Paperwork was filed in early December. Former Cathay cabin crew members based out of California, working between October 2013 and September 2016 made up the proposed class. Class members were entitled to receive a pro rata share of the net settlement – depending on the number of weeks they worked during the pre-determined period of time and the number of years they were with Cathay airlines beginning in October of 2006.

If you have questions about wage and hour law or if you feel unfairly treated in the workplace, please contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP to discuss potential violations.

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