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Class action lawsuit targets employee break periods

The number of employees who are suing their employers for workplace violations such as failure to pay overtime and other wage and hour violations has substantially increased in recent years, according to human resource management experts. One of the most significant of these cases is a lawsuit involving inadequate break periods that could have far-reaching consequences for employers in Houston and around the nation.

A man who worked for a San Diego shipyard company brought an class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and more than 1,900 fellow employees. He and his colleagues were working on a contract for the U.S. Navy that required security checkpoints to both enter and exit the ship. He alleged that the checkpoints led to long waiting periods, which meant that some employees did not receive a 30-minute meal break as is required by California labor law. He also alleged that the company forced its employees to purchase uniforms from the company without reimbursement.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ultimately approved a $2.9 million settlement. Although this wassubstantially less than the $11.9 million that the plaintiffs asked for, the court found some weaknesses in the case and thus found the dollar amount to be fair.

Employees who feel that they are not being paid in accordance with applicable federal or state labor laws may want to meet with an attorney who has experience with these types of matters. If the situation can not be resolved through negotiations, the next step could be the filing of a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act or applicable state law.

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