A proposed class action alleges Lifetouch National School Studios, Inc. has overstepped California’s Labor Code in failing to pay proper wages, provide meal and rest breaks, and reimburse business expenses.
According to the case, Lifetouch photographers are expected to, and frequently do, work through meal and rest breaks during shifts lasting more than eight hours. If employees do receive breaks, they are often interrupted as the workers must remain on site and available to answer questions from school officials, the suit claims.
The plaintiff, a former employee, alleges Lifetouch, who contracts with California schools to take and retouch photos for class pictures and yearbooks, fails to pay workers one hour of premium pay for each missed or non-compliant break in accordance with the California Labor Code. Even when the company does pay workers missed-break premiums at their regular hourly rate, the amounts fail to account for all forms of compensation, such as incentive pay and nondiscretionary bonuses, the suit claims.
“As a result, to the extent Lifetouch paid Plaintiff and class members premium pay for missed meal or rest periods, it did so at a lower rate than required by law,” the complaint alleges, noting the defendant runs approximately 700 photography studios found within J.C. Penney and Target stores nationwide in addition to 15 standalone locations operating as FLASH! Digital Portraits.
The lawsuit goes on to allege Lifetouch maintains a policy and practice of requiring photographers to work off the clock without compensation. Although the company builds into workers’ schedules a certain amount of time for unloading/loading and setting up/breaking down equipment at each job site, these tasks frequently take longer than the allotted amount of time, the case asserts. Because Lifetouch trains employees to only report the hours indicated in their assigned shift and rounds employee hours to the nearest 15-minute increment, workers are not paid for every hour worked, the suit claims.
Per the case, Lifetouch photographers work anywhere from 10 to 18 hours per day during the company’s busy season of June to November, and eight to nine hours per day from December to May.
Moreover, the plaintiff claims Lifetouch is aware employees often work overtime hours yet fails to pay all overtime wages due. For example, the company allegedly limited the amount of overtime wages to two hours per day regardless of how many hours a worker put in and despite having a written policy that allowed for up to five hours of overtime per day.
The plaintiff further charges Lifetouch has “willfully, knowingly, and intentionally” refused to pay workers back for business expenses incurred while performing their duties, including the costs of using personal cell phones and vehicles for work purposes. Per the suit, work-related reimbursements were limited and failed to account for the full costs of employees’ cell phone bills and mileages driven.
Finally, the case argues Lifetouch has failed to provide accurate, itemized wage statements and has instead furnished employee pay stubs that were “deficient in numerous ways,” including in that they failed to accurately state the number of hours and overtime hours worked during each pay period.
The plaintiff additionally alleges employees who were terminated were also deprived of all wages due and owing upon termination of their employment.
The plaintiff looks to represent anyone who worked for Lifetouch as a photographer within the past four years and through the date the class is certified, “or such other date as may be ordered, or amended, by the Court.”
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