Initial Approval for $8.5M Settlement in Wage and Hour Case Against Rock-Tenn Co.

by Norman B. Blumenthal on September 29, 2017

blumenthal nordrehaug & bhowmik, southern california employment law, southern california employment law attorneysLos Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu M. Berle gave preliminary approval to Rock-Tenn Co.’s $8.5 million deal negotiated to resolve class action claims that the paper and packaging company denied over 800 California factory workers proper breaks, overtime and wages. The case has been in heavy litigation for five years. The judge noted that the settlement appeared to be fair, reasonable and adequate.

Plaintiff Frederick Wilson originally filed the suit. Parties involved in the case attempted to reach a settlement agreement numerous times throughout the litigation process with a third round of mediation beginning in December 2016 ending successfully. Both parties entered mediation intending to explore potential settlement options, but prepared to litigate and appeal if a settlement could not be reached.

Defendant Rock-Tenn, now known as WestRock CP LLC, was accused of having policies and practices in place that caused workers to miss meal and rest breaks, take shortened meal and rest breaks, and not providing state-required compensation for the situation. Allegations also stated employees were shorted on overtime pay through off-the-clock work practices, and inaccurate (or “illegal”) recording to time worked by employees.

In the settlement, Rock-Tenn turned WestRock CP LLC maintains that they paid for all hours worked and authorized and permitted rest and meal breaks for their employees.

The class of about 800 members is made up of non-exempt hourly workers employed at the company’s five different California factory locations between July 16, 2008 and May 7, 2015 are slotted to receive individual settlements averaging $6,332. Attorneys are in line to receive up to one-third of the settlement amount (over $2.8 million) in attorneys’ fees. Named plaintiffs would each receive an additional service award of $12,000. All is subject to the court’s final approval.

If you have a problem in the workplace and fear you are not receiving your mandatory meal and rest breaks, minimum wage or overtime wages, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

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