Overtime Pay Class Action Lawsuit Against Phoenix Warehouse of California

by Norman B. Blumenthal on December 27, 2017

blumenthal nordrehaug & bhowmik, southern california employment law, southern california employment law attorneys, california overtime pay lawsuit, overtime pay lawsuit, overtime lawsuit, overtime suit, class action lawsuit, california class action lawsuit, class action overtime suit, overtime class actionApproximately 1,500 workers employed by the Phoenix Warehouse of California between 2009 and 2016 allege that they were expected to work eight to 12 hours per day without any meal or rest breaks and without overtime pay as required by law. Plaintiffs describe their work environment as rancid. Workers, mostly Latino who only spoke Spanish, were frequently and regularly threatened with deportation if they complained about their working conditions, pay, lack of rest breaks, etc.

One worker has since reported that she was forced to acquiesce to her manager’s sexual advances before she was able to get her pay for the day’s work. These allegations in addition to others not mentioned here paint a grim picture from the perspective of the workers at Phoenix Warehouse of California. As described by the workers, the work environment hostile and business practices included gross and obvious methods of wage theft and workplace violence – all perpetrated against both men and women in vulnerable circumstances. Some involved in the case describe the situation as a true sweatshop scenario.

The lawsuit seeks restitution, interest, penalties, and legal fees on behalf of the plaintiffs, totaling millions of dollars.

Phoenix Warehouse of California is a retail distribution center delivering goods to major retail outlets like Walmart, Target, Homegoods and others throughout Southern California. Technically speaking, the workers enduring such harsh working conditions and overt wage theft were not technically employees of Phoenix Warehouse of California. They were employees of three different staffing companies providing workers for the warehouse: Fairway Staffing Services of Bellflower, Coastal Employment of Pico Rivera and Diamond Staffing Services. The three staffing companies as well as Phoenix Warehouse of California allegedly avoided overtime payment that was legally obligatory through a shell game: shuffling of employees between the various staffing agencies week by week, so that the overtime pay threshold was not technically crossed.

Using staffing companies is a common practice in the warehouse distribution industry and has been cited in other wage theft cases. But California labor law does provide a way for contractors to be held liable for overtime pay violations of their own subcontractors. The question in this case will boil down to who was in charge of deciding which employee worked from day-to-day or hour-to-hour at the Phoenix Warehouse of California. If the warehouse was responsible for employee assignments they may be held responsible for legal wage payment requirements.

Other legal issues will likely arise from allegations that workers’ time cards were altered at the company’s headquarters in New Jersey so that clocked hours would never trigger overtime obligations – workers’ legal representation is calling it falsification of time records and destruction of evidence.

If you have questions regarding overtime pay, or falsification of time records in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

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