Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation failed to pay production workers for time spent undergoing mandatory COVID-19 screenings before each shift and after lunch breaks, a proposed class action alleges.
The 10-page lawsuit says that under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, employees must be paid for “all hours worked,” including for time during which they’re required to be on premises and regardless of whether they are “actually performing job-related duties.”
Per the suit out of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Cargill production workers at the meat processing company’s Hazleton and Wyalusing plants are owed unpaid overtime wages for time spent undergoing mandatory COVID-19 screenings.
Cargill implemented a company-wide, mandatory COVID-19 screening process following the initial outbreak of the virus, which saw a “major outbreak” at the company’s Hazleton plant, the filing states. Pursuant to the new policy, production workers were required to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to the start of each shift and before the end of their lunch breaks, the case relays.
The suit claims, however, that because production employees had to wait in line before being screened and were permitted to don protective equipment and walk to their work stations only after the screening, the workers had to arrive at the facility “earlier than they had before the implementation of the examinations” in order to ensure they would be ready to start their work at the beginning of their shifts. According to the suit, “[s]uch time was uncompensated.”
Moreover, workers were required to undergo an additional COVID-19 screening process at the end of each lunch break, meaning they were “rarely able to take a fully relieved lunch break” of at least 30 minutes, according to the filing.
The lawsuit claims the COVID-19 screening process caused production employees to put in “significant amounts of time” for which they were not paid. According to the suit, the workers are owed unpaid time-and-a-half overtime wages for every hour worked in excess of 40 each week.
The case looks to represent hourly paid production workers who reside in Pennsylvania and, during “any week within the relevant time period,” were employed by Cargill at one of its Pennsylvania plants.
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