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Wage and Hour Class Action

Ecolab,Inc., has settled a wage and hour class action lawsuit, alleging violations of the California Labor Code, the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and the Unfair Business Practices Act, for $29,000,000. This is certainly one of the largest, pre-trial settlements to come along recently. What makes this rather run-of-the-mill cases so interesting at least in the eyes of Los Angeles Employment Attorney is that the company had previously faced two similar lawsuits, both class actions in state court. However, this suit alleged that the company failed to change the policies which they knew were defective from the first two lawsuits.

The settlement involved allegations of failing to pay proper overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.The workers were pest elimination service specialists, Senior PESS and Select Segment Specialists. the case had two plaintiffs (individual workers who represented the class), and each of them received an incentive fee for assisting the lawyers. These were $25,000 and $15,000 along with their share of the class proceeds. The State of California received $750,000 payable to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. I am sure the company saw these lead plaintiffs as “pests” in their own right!

Class actions continue to represent an economical way of settling hundreds–if not thousands–of small claims in one proceeding. These proceedings are usually heard by judges who specialize in class actions and are well-versed in the rules and legal standards. We routinely file class actions where there are numerous plaintiffs, the claims all share something in common (like overtime violations, meal or rest break violations, failure to pay prevailing wage on public contract work, etc.). Each claim must be typical for the class. It is rare for such a case to go all the way to trial, and in the last year only one or two have actually been tried in LA County. Let know if you have such a claim. If you are terminated for complaining about wages you may have an excellent termination claim as an individual.