LOS ANGELES — A California judge issued a tentative ruling that will send an overtime class action to arbitration. The truck drivers in the overtime lawsuit are now asking the judge to reconsider the order because they believe the arbitration agreement is not enforceable. The drivers believe the arbitration agreement between Apex Bulk Commodities Inc. and themselves is unconscionable and unenforceable because it only applies to employees and to not the employer.
The Overtime Claim
In the lawsuit, filed in November 2013, the truck drivers claim the company failed to pay its drivers proper overtime wages. The drivers transport bulk raw materials to and from work sites and factories for Apex. They claim that instead of paying truck drivers by the hour the company paid them by the mile. This allowed Apex to avoid paying for all of the work and time the drivers did for the company. This work included rest periods, time spent waiting for truck loading and unloading, and time spent inspecting and preparing their vehicles. Additionally, the drivers claim Apex did not pay overtime, even when Apex paid the drivers for working more than 40 hours.
Arbitration and Arbitration Agreements
Before the court can begin addressing the overtime claim, it must first determine if the case can be heard in court or if the parties must go to arbitration. This is why the arbitration agreement is the current focus of the overtime class action. If the drivers knew they were signing an arbitration agreement and the agreement is enforceable, then the court will have to send the case to an arbitrator.
Many companies are choosing to have employees sign arbitration agreements prior to starting employment or as a new term of continued employment. These agreements require employers and employees to arbitrate any employment conflicts, or any specifically stated conflicts, prior to going to trial. Occasionally, employers will choose not to enforce the arbitration agreement, but it is rare. There are a few instances where going to trial is preferable to arbitration for employers. But the courts prefer that both sides try to reach a settlement prior to coming before the court. In many situations, reaching a settlement is better for both sides due to costs and the time required.
If you believe you have a claim for overtime wages contact our knowledgeable team of overtime pay lawyers to discuss your situation and options. Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page and our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers will evaluate your claim. If you are owed overtime wages and we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise, which means there are never any legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.