A proposed class action alleges Sun-Maid Growers of California has failed to pay proper wages and provide adequate meal and rest breaks to workers at its raisin and dried fruit processing plant.
The plaintiff, who worked for Sun-Maid from September 2016 to March 2020, alleges in the 55-page complaint that the company has unilaterally and unlawfully failed to accurately calculate overtime wages to avoid paying such. Further, Sun-Maid has failed to accurately record the amount of time employees worked despite being required by law to do so, and permitted work to be done off the clock without pay, the case says.
“This uniform policy and practice of Defendant was intended to purposefully avoid the payment of the correct California overtime and federal overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act which allowed Defendant to illegally profit and gain an unfair advantage over competitors who complied with the law,” according to the lawsuit.
More specifically, the lawsuit alleges Sun-Maid required the plaintiff and similarly situated employees to work while clocked out during what was supposed to be off-duty meal breaks. The plaintiff, the suit claims, was from time to time interrupted by work assignments, and there were many days where the man did not even receive a partial lunch, according to the lawsuit. Per the case, Sun-Maid workers were deprived of an off-duty meal period for every five hours worked during a shift, as well as a second off-duty meal period when they were required to work 10 hours.
“As a result, Plaintiff and other California Class Members forfeited minimum wage and overtime compensation by regularly working without their time being accurately recorded and without compensation at the applicable minimum wage and overtime rates,” the case charges.
Further, the lawsuit claims Sun-Maid, from time to time, failed to pay wages, including overtime, for every hour worked, such that employees were in aggregate underpaid wages due to the defendant’s “pattern and practice of unevenly rounding” their hours worked. Instead of receiving overtime at one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay, Sun-Maid workers were given compensation at their hourly rate plus incentive pay that was tied to specific elements of their performance, the suit says.
The case alleges Sun-Maid failed to include non-discretionary incentive pay in employees’ regular rates of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime wages. Per the suit, workers were also underpaid when it came to sick pay, as Sun-Maid allegedly failed to pay such at their regular pay rate and instead remitted the wages based on their base rates of pay sans non-discretionary incentives.
“The failure to do so has resulted in a systematic underpayment of overtime compensation to Plaintiff and other California Class Members by Defendant,” the complaint reads.
The case also alleges Sun-Maid failed to reimburse workers for business expenses, in particular for the required use of their personal cell phones for work purposes. Moreover, Sun-Maid failed to provide the plaintiff and similarly situated workers with legally compliant, uninterrupted rest breaks or one hour’s worth of wages in lieu thereof, the lawsuit says.
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