LOS ANGELES — Delivery drivers for Anheuser-Busch InBev filed a putative class action lawsuit in California federal court recently. They claim they were denied overtime wages and were discouraged from taking their meal and rest breaks in violation of state and federal labor laws. The delivery drivers allege these labor law violations could total more than $5 million in lost wages and other damages to the nearly 400 potential class members who have worked for the company in California over the last four years.
The Drivers’ Claims
The two plaintiffs, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other drivers, claim over their combined 40 years of working for the company, they worked more than 40 hours a week on many occasions, yet they did not receive overtime pay for their extra hours of work. The plaintiffs allege the company has records showing the daily and weekly overtime hours worked, but it has never paid for those hours. They also claim that while the company has a written policy allowing paid meal and rest breaks, drivers were not allowed to take those breaks and the company’s pay system discourages taking the breaks even when they are possible.
According to the lawsuit, Anheuser-Busch pays its delivery drivers a flat daily rate and an additional 10 cents for each case of alcoholic beverages they deliver to retailers. This “10 cents per case” is a piece rate method of payment, which is allowed under the FLSA. However, the plaintiffs claim the piece rate method allowed the company to avoid providing and paying for meal and rest periods because taking breaks meant fewer cases delivered. So drivers were encouraged and incentivized to work through breaks in order to deliver more cases.
Piecework and Overtime
If an employee is paid on a piece rate basis, it means the employee is paid a set amount for each item or assignment completed. Even employees paid a piece rate can be entitled to overtime pay, if the employee works more than 40 hours a week. Piece rate overtime is one half (1/2) of the employee’s regular rate instead of the usual time-and-a-half. And unlike hourly workers, the regular rate for piecework can vary week to week as it is calculated by dividing the total amount of piecework completed during the week by the total number of hours worked. This can make calculating overtime somewhat complicated.
If you receive a piece rate for your services and you believe your employer has failed to pay one half your regular rate for each additional hour you work beyond 40 hours a week, call our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our knowledgeable legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.