FRESNO, Cali. — A group of production employees who were or are employed by Kraft Foods Group, Inc. in California filed a class action suit against the company for violations of the California Labor Code. The class is represented by Jose Rodriguez, who alleges that the company failed to provide meal and rest breaks and failed to timely pay wages as required by law. The class members include hourly paid production employees at any time since June 5, 2010. Shortly after the suit was filed the company agreed to settle their claims for $1.75 million. The named plaintiff would receive a service award of $10,000, and the attorneys’ fees would amount to $583,275.
Claim for Meal and Rest Breaks
According to the suit, Kraft routinely failed to provide the class members with a thirty-minute meal break before the end of their fifth hour of work and a thirty-minute rest period as required by state law. Additionally, the suit claims that Kraft failed to pay employees all owed wages on designated pay days or no later than 72 hours after an employee ends his or her employment.
California law prohibits employers from employing individuals to work for more than five hours without providing them with an unpaid meal period that lasts at least thirty minutes that:
- Relieves employees of all duty;
- Releases control over all their activities;
- Allows them the opportunity to take an uninterrupted thirty-minute break without discouraging them from doing so.
If an employer fails to provide such a meal period, then the employer owes the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate, which must be included in the next paycheck.
Court Questions Proposed Settlement
After a hearing on the proposed settlement, the court questioned the sufficiency of the settlement amount. According to the court, the parties indicated that the class suffered missed or late meals approximately 70 to 75% of the time. However, under the settlement, the employees are only getting compensated for one hour of time per week, at an hourly rate of ten dollars per hour. The court ordered for the parties to provide information on the average rate of pay for all employees in the class so that it can determine whether the settlement amount provides a fair hourly rate of reimbursement for the class.
Settlements of wage claims will be evaluated by courts for their fairness. Employees should consult with seasoned employment attorneys before entering into any settlement of wage disputes with employers. If you find yourself in the middle of a wage dispute, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine the best option. We will also determine you should file a lawsuit against your employer. Call our experienced attorneys today.