BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A federal court granted approval of a $1.5 million settlement in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) class action suit brought by airport workers in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles claiming Deutsche Post DHL violated FLSA’s overtime protections. The class includes 242 airport workers who alleged that they were underpaid by $1.65 million due to unlawful rounding of time, automatic deductions for meals, and requests that they work off the clock.
The plaintiffs in this case alleged that DHL unlawfully rounded down their time worked in violation of FLSA. FLSA allows employers to round employee time to the nearest quarter hour. Employers may violate FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements if the employer consistently rounds time down. Employee time from one to seven minutes may be rounded down and not counted as hours worked. However, employee time from eight to fourteen minutes must be rounded up and counted as a quarter hour of work time.
Plaintiffs in this case alleged that DHL automatically deducted time spent for meals regardless of whether the employees actually took those meal breaks. For those breaks to not count as work time, employees must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. If an employee does not work during some or all of his or her meal breaks, then an employer cannot deduct pay.
The attorneys in this case requested $500,000 in attorneys’ fees, but the court denied the request and instead awarded $370,000. The court stated that a fees award of one-third the total settlement fund was not appropriate and that the hourly billing rates were not in line with the prevailing hourly rates in the Eastern District of New York. The court also cut the total billed hours by 10% across the board, stating that the timekeeping was plagued by problems. According to the court, many of the tasks that the attorneys billed for a quarter of an hour did not take a full fifteen minutes were improperly rounded.
Employers cannot automatically deduct time spent for meal breaks unless they are certain that employees actually took those breaks. Additionally, FLSA has specific rules for rounding and employers cannot automatically round down irrespective of the time worked. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe your wages were unlawfully withheld due to an employer’s illegal policy. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.