California Wage and Hour Law at Issue in Fast Food Class Actions

A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of California workers employed at a popular, nationwide burger chain, accused of break and overtime violations.grilledsausagepatties

This suit joins previous litigation filed on behalf of current and former employees of a Mexican fast food chain.

Our Costa Mesa overtime attorneys know that chain operations, particularly those that employ low-wage, low-skill workers, tend to be prone to this type of violation because they believe they can get away with it.

A lot of the time, they are right – but only because workers figure they have little or no chance of success if they press forward with litigation against a corporate giant. To be sure, such entities have deep pockets to defend legal actions. However, that doesn’t make them right. Most of these places are “successful” because no action is ever filed.

That’s starting to change. Workers of all levels are becoming increasingly educated when it comes to their wage and hour rights under both state and federal law.

California has some of the strongest worker protection laws on the books. With regard to overtime, California requires that nonexempt workers over the age of 18 shall not be made to work more than eight hours daily or more than 40 hours in any given work week, unless he or she receives one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for all additional hours worked.

The state also stipulates that employers can’t require a worker to work more than five hours daily without providing a meal period of at least 30 minutes. Those working more than 10 hours daily should also be given another 30-minute meal break, unless the total number of hours worked is no more than 12 hours. Only one of those two meal breaks can be waived, but only if there is mutual consent by both the worker and the employer.

At the burger joint, employees are alleging in Gutierrez v. Five Guys Operations that the company failed to provide its workers with overtime payments and appropriate meal breaks. It’s also alleged that when the employer did pay overtime wages, it wasn’t for the full time-and-a-half amount required by law.

In the case against the taco fast food restaurant chain, the allegations are that the company:

  • Failed to pay proper overtime wages, if they were paid at all;
  • Denial of meal and rest breaks;
  • Failed to pay minimum wage;
  • Unpaid business expenses;
  • Failure to pay accrued vacation wages;
  • Failure to pay timely wages following termination;
  • Discrimination;
  • Wrongful termination;
  • Unfair or unlawful business practices, in violation of California Business & Professions Code Section 17200.

As we’ve outlined in previous blog postings, cases like this are only expected to increase.

The Federal Judicial Center reports that U.S. employers have noted an increase in the number of federal wage and hour employment litigation actions. Federal wage and hour cases in California rose from about 4,100 in 2003 to nearly 6,800 in 2007 – a more than 65 percent increase.

It’s a trend that has continued in the years since, as we have begun to emerge from the recession and workers are gaining confidence to stand up for their rights.

 Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with the help of the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Overtime, State of California, Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

More Blog Entries:

Overtime Court Battles Wage in California, Nationwide, July 23, 2013, Costa Mesa Overtime Lawyer Blog