We Settle Wage & Hour Case For Zinc Production Workers

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Young Law Group, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law, is pleased to announce final approval of a $1.2 million dollar settlement with Horsehead Corporation to resolve a collective action lawsuit brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) on behalf of over 500 present and former unionized zinc production workers in Monaca, Pennsylvania. (Figas, et. al. v. Horsehead Corporation, 2:06-cv-01344, W.D.Pa.).

Plaintiffs, members of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 8183, asserted that Horsehead violated the FLSA by failing to pay production workers for time spent donning and doffing protective clothing and equipment before and after paid time.  Plaintiffs also sought compensation for the time spent by production workers traveling to and from their respective work locations.

Eric L. Young, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, “Horsehead’s Zinc Production Workers labor tirelessly in a difficult and dangerous work environment — they deserve to be paid for all of the time spent at work.  We are honored to have been successful in obtaining additional wages for these dedicated workers.”

For more information about this settlement, please contact Eric L. Young, Esquire at 215-367-5151 or eyoung@young-lawgroup.com  Young Law Group, a Philadelphia-based law group, is dedicated to representing employees throughout the United States in wage and hour collective and class action litigation.

Sunoco Inc. Agrees To Pay $675,000.00 To Settle FLSA Action

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Egan Young, Attorneys-at-Law, is pleased to announce final approval of a $675,000.00 dollar settlement with Sunoco, Inc. to resolve a collective action lawsuit brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) on behalf of 488 current and/or former unionized operations and laboratory workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Ripley, et. al. v. Sunoco, Inc, 2:10-cv-01194, E.D.Pa.).

In February 2010, Plaintiffs, members of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 10-1, asserted that Sunoco, Inc. violated the FLSA and analogous Pennsylvania state laws by failing to pay operations and laboratory workers for pre and post shift work time, including required “shift relief” — a process unique to refinery workers who routinely work 12-hour shifts.

The agreement resolves all wage claims asserted in the lawsuit.  In addition, Sunoco agreed to change certain operational policies such that class members will also receive additional future compensation for engaging in the required “shift relief”.

Eric L. Young, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, “Sunoco refinery workers labor tirelessly in a difficult and dangerous work environment.  They deserve to be paid for all of the time spent at work.  We are honored to have been successful in obtaining additional wages for these dedicated workers.”   Mr. Young was assisted by EY attorneys Gerard P. Egan and Brandon J. Lauria.

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For more information about this settlement, please contact Eric L. Young, Esquire at 1-800-590-4116 or eyoung@eganyoung.com.  Egan Young, a Philadelphia-based law firm, is dedicated to representing employees throughout the United States in wage and hour collective and class action litigation.

Employment Class Action Settlements Set Record in 2015 Amidst Tidal Wave of FLSA Lawsuits

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Settlements in all types of workplace class actions in 2015 reached an all-time high of $2.48 billion according to the 12th Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report published by Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm representing employers in the defense of workplace lawsuits. The report identifies and analyzes key trends and settlements from 2015 in workplace litigation, including lawsuits under the FLSA, ADEA, ERISA, Title VII and various other laws.

Update on Overtime and Minimum Wage in PA

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At the end of August only a few days before Labor Day, a federal judge struck down the new rule issued by the Labor Department during the Obama administration to make more than 4 million workers eligible for time and a half overtime by setting a higher salary threshold for the overtime exemption. The Obama administration rule released in May 2016 would have doubled the threshold to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from overtime to $47,476 from $23,660.

Record Year for Wage and Hour Lawsuits

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The number of filings for wage and hour lawsuits in federal court has risen more than 300 percent over the past 15 years to a record of 8,871 filings in Fiscal Year 2015. In 2000, there were less than 2,000 of these lawsuits filed in federal court.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt Settles Wage Theft Case Against Vantage Foods

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Last week, Chief Judge Conner in the Middle District of Pennsylvania approved a settlement in a wage theft case we brought against Vantage Foods on behalf of our client and the other workers at the Camp Hill, PA facility.

It Is About Time!

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For years, powerful lobbyist for corporate America have successfully impeded government intervention with regard to wide-spread violations of state and federal wage protection laws. Well, times have changed. Yesterday, Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Lynn Woolsey introduced the Employee Misclassification Protection Act which is aimed at helping millions of workers who are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors, often as an excuse to avoid paying federal and state payroll taxes. This scheme allows unscrupulous employers’ to cut cost by as much as 30 percent—and gives them an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors, driving down labor standards for all workers.

For workers affected by this practice—construction workers, hospitality workers, broadcast technicians, stage hands, musicians, home health care workers and day laborers, among many others—this bill offers a pathway to receiving labor protections that most Americans take for granted, like being paid the minimum wage and receiving overtime pay after 40 hours of work, or workers’ compensation when they are hurt on the job. Workers wrongly classified as independent contractors also are denied pension or and health benefits, and are told they aren’t protected by civil rights laws.

The bill would require employers to classify workers as employees, using a well-defined test that has existed since 1947, and it establishes a penalty for failing to do so. It applies common sense to the workplace, requiring that employers tell workers if they have been classified as independent contractors and how they can challenge that classification. The bill also protects workers who do challenge misclassification from retaliation.

Workers should be paid what the law says they are due. Misclassification has cost workers untold millions in wages and has cost the federal and state governments many millions in unpaid income, Social Security, unemployment and workers compensation taxes and premiums. New York City construction industry losses in payroll taxes and social insurance premiums due to misclassification are estimated at $170 million a year. In Ohio, the attorney general estimates annual costs from worker misclassification may be $100 million for unemployment insurance, more than $510 million in workers compensation premiums and almost $180 million in forgone state income tax revenues. Misclassification, he says, cost cities and villages more than $100 million in local income tax revenues in 2006, and cost school districts $7.8 million in 2008. Many other states report a similar impact. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service reported that in 1984, almost 20 percent of construction industry employers misclassified workers; a number that has surely grown.

This bill is a step in the right direction to protect workers, make sure that the country’s labor standards are upheld and place all employers on a level playing field. We look forward to working with Senator Brown and Representative Woolsey and their colleagues on this important piece of legislation. It is a crucial component in our ongoing campaign to ensure that all jobs are good jobs.

Eric L. Young, is a seasoned trial lawyer who specializes in wage and hour litigation and whistleblower litigation. Mr. Young can be contacted at 800-590-4116 or eyoung@young-lawgroup.com.

Supreme Court Protects Class Actions as DOL Fights Wage Theft

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It has been a good week for consumers and employees as the Supreme Court protected the right to proceed with a class action and the Labor Department opened up new options for victims of wage theft.

Amazon Working Conditions Just As Bad for Delivery Drivers

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Recent news headlines have focused on the “unsafe” and “grueling” working conditions that employees labor under in Amazon warehouses across the globe. While the media focuses its attention on the warehouses, delivery drivers working for Amazon are now stepping forward to have their stories told as well. 

Amazon is famed for its lightning fast delivery times, with customers often receiving orders within the same day. These tight delivery schedules make for stressful and often hazardous working conditions that endanger drivers. 

 

Amazon Drivers Are Overworked and Underpaid

Amazon delivery drivers are reporting working ten to fourteen hours in a shift. This is in part because drivers are not allowed to return any packages from their routes, meaning drivers can make over 160 stops per shift. 

While the pay rate seems decent enough, with drivers starting at $15 an hour, this rate is actually far less than the average starting wage for other delivery drivers. For example, UPS drivers are represented by the Teamsters Union that starts their wages at $21 an hour, up to $40 an hour or more for more experienced drivers. 

 

The Amazon Mentor App Leads to Invasive Oversight for Drivers

When drivers start their shift, they first log into the Amazon “Mentor” app. The Mentor app provides information on where to leave packages, access codes to apartment buildings, and dictates every step of the drivers day. The app tracks and measures driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking, or making phone calls, and gives the drivers a score based on these behaviors. 

Since the Mentor app is constantly monitoring the drivers every move, it also alerts their supervisors if they deviate or stop along the route even briefly. When a van stops for longer than three minutes, a dispatcher will call the driver and ask why. This constant oversight creates a stressful environment for drivers when dropping off packages or simply trying to take a lunch or restroom break.

 

No Bathroom Breaks for Delivery Drivers

With the Mentor app constantly monitoring drivers, every stop has to be accounted for. That leaves most drivers with no time to use the restroom on their ten hour shifts. Drivers need to use public restrooms such as ones inside grocery stores, so if their route does not include an area that has such a location, drivers have to make a long detour that could cost them their job. Because of these strict measures, drivers report using empty water bottles in their vehicles instead of stopping to use the restroom.

 

Amazon Hires Contractors To Prevent Workers From Organizing

Amazon has consistently stated that they are not responsible for these working conditions because the drivers are not actually Amazon employees. That’s because Amazon uses contractors for delivery services, a move that allows them to duck responsibility, while also helping to prevent workers from organizing for better conditions. 

The Teamsters Union has been working with Amazon drivers and the delivery service providers that hire them in an attempt to curtail these exploitative practices, with the director of the Teamsters Amazon project stating, “This sort of model is problematic for the entire (delivery) industry”. 

 

Do Amazon Delivery Drivers Get Overtime?

Although drivers are being asked to work long hours with few breaks, they are still only paid flat day rates for their work with no additional pay for overtime hours. This has led to multiple class-action lawsuits being filed against the company in over ten states. 

Amazon recently agreed to pay out over $8.2 million in a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were engaging in wage-theft by refusing to properly compensate drivers. The lawsuit claims that Amazon failed to pay the minimum wage, and denied compensation for rest breaks or overtime. Amazon has also been fined $6.4 million by California regulators for similar wage-theft violations, though Amazon has stated it is appealing the fine. 

 

Workers Deserve Protections

While Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disputes Elon Musk for the title of world’s richest person, the drivers who keep his company running are struggling to pay rent, while working under increasingly stressful and unsafe conditions. 

The team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have decades of experience fighting for workers, and are following these developments closely. If you work as a delivery driver for Amazon and have been subject to unfair working conditions, contact us today at 1-866-333-7715 or online via our form.  

 

 

Philadelphia’s New Wage Theft Law

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A bill passed back in December to fight wage theft in Philadelphia will go in effect today, July 1, 2016. It’s one more reason for employees to cheer Mayor Nutter’s tenure in charge of the city.

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