Eight individuals who formerly served as “role players” for U.S. Marines training simulations have filed a proposed class action against their former employers to recover allegedly unpaid wages. The plaintiffs, who were tasked with portraying East African, Iraqi, Afghani, Filipino and Mexican characters and others of “cultural interest” to the military, claim they performed substantial off-the-clock work without proper compensation.
According to the lawsuit, the three joint-employer defendants—Bristol Bay Native Corporation; Glacier Technical Solutions, LLC; and Workforce Resources, LLC—contracted with the United States Department of Defense to help train Marines by employing “individuals as role-players to work in simulated villages as shopkeepers, village elders, insurgents, and other roles.” The case claims role players’ typical work days often included tasks unrelated to playing a character of a certain nationality. From the complaint:
“Role-players were required to report for work at Defendants' office in Oceanside, California where they were often assigned tasks such as cleaning Defendants' vans and loading equipment into Defendants vans for transport to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. The role-players were then transported from Defendants' office in Oceanside to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. Once on base, the role-players were transported to the exercise areas where they participated in training exercises with the U.S. Marines. When the training exercises with the U.S. Marines were complete, role-players typically waited for Defendants' vans to arrive for transport from Camp Pendleton back to Defendants' office in Oceanside. Defendants required the role-players to ride in Defendants' vans for transport to and from Defendants' office and Camp Pendleton.
“Upon return to Defendants' office, role-players were assigned various tasks, including unloading vans, cleaning vans, cleaning equipment and accounting for equipment.”
The suit claims that the defendants only paid proposed class members for hours worked from the time they entered the base until their training exercises concluded. The plaintiffs, the case alleges, were paid no wages at all for time spent cleaning and unloading the defendants’ vans, waiting to be picked up after training exercises, or for work performed after returning to the companies’ office. The plaintiffs further allege they were not properly compensated for travel time to and from the base.
“Travel time is considered compensable work hours where the employer requires its employees to meet at a designated place, use the employer’s transportation to and from the work site and prohibits employees from using their own transportation,” the complaint reads.
As such, the suit argues that the defendants failed to compensate the plaintiffs for all hours worked, some of which were in excess of 40 hours per week and required time-and-a-half compensation.
The plaintiffs seek “compensation for all hours worked, overtime hours worked, liquidated damages, penalties for failure to provide accurate earnings statements, and waiting time penalties.”