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How California Metal Manufacturing Companies Owe Unpaid Wages and Penalties to California workers

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California metal manufacturing companies require a great deal of physical labor and technical skill from workers. These metal manufacturing companies make millions in profits every year.   Unfortunately, many metal manufacturing employers add to their profits by not following the wage laws in the California Labor Code and California Wage Orders

When this happens, you have the right to sue an employer for unpaid wages as well as interest and waiting time penalties.

Recent Unpaid Wage Claims Against Metal Manufacturers

In the majority of wage claims, employers make money by skimming a few dollars off of each employee’s wages every week—adding up to several thousand dollars for the employer every year. When multiple employees are affected by a labor violation, employees can band together and file a class action lawsuit to recover lost wages and penalties.

California metal manufacturing companies are required to follow the wages, hours and working conditions as mandated by California Wage Order No. 1 - for the manufacturing industry

It seems that sometimes the best way to explain California wage law is to go over a case study, so you can see how California's strict wage laws work in the real world. 

A case study - a California metal manufacturing company - doesn't pay for all time worked, and doesn't provide legal meal breaks & rest breaks

 
This case is about a California metal manufacturing company. The company does aircraft manufacturing and also does custom metal fabrication and CNC manufacturing. The manufacturing facility is large, covering many, many football fields in size.
 
The metal manufacturing company has a security system where employees have to badge into the secure facility and then walk to a time clock in order to capture their work time. This security and clock in process takes 1-2 minutes every time they clock in or out.
 

You’re under the control of the employer while you are going through security, walking to the time clock and/or waiting to clock in

In the Morillion California Supreme Court case, the workers had to ride on the employer’s bus while going to their job work in fields. The California Supreme Court held that this time in the employer’s bus was compensable work time, because they were under the control of the employer. Morillion v. Royal Packing Co., 22 Cal. 4th 575, 586 (2000).

Am I supposed to be paid in California when go through the security check line, walk to the time clock and/or wait at the time clock before I clock in?

Yes. Under California law, you must be paid for all hours that you work. Meaning, all time you are under the control of your employer or subject to duties of your employer. This includes time going through a security check, bag check, walking to the time clock, waiting to clock in and/or clocking in.

There are three main sources of California employment law - the California Wage Orders and the California Labor Code and the California Courts enforcing these laws. Under the California Wage Orders, employees must be paid for all time worked.
 
Putting aside the all the great substantive law to protect California workers that has came out of the landmark California Supreme Court case - Brinker vs. Superior Court, the Brinker case is all about enforcing California’s strong worker protection laws.
 
One of the worker protection concepts in the Brinker decision is:
 
In light of the remedial nature of the legislative enactments authorizing the regulation of wages, hours and working conditions for the protection and benefit of employees, the statutory provisions are  to be liberally construed with an eye to promoting such protection.
Brinker  v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, 1026-1027.

Why is Bill Turley asked to testify concerning wage law legislation at the California State Senate and the California Assembly?

California's best wage lawyer - Bill Turley

A No B.S. straight-shooter lawyer

Believe it or not, Bill Turley is known for being a no B.S. straight-up lawyer. Besides being known as one of the leading experts on this area of the law in California, one of the reasons why Bill is asked to testify at legislature hearings is because he is known for being straight-forward and blunt. He is known for being no B.S., with no lawyer-talk, no double-talk.

It is not illegal under California law for your employer to force you to go through a security check and/or a bag check when you enter and leave the workplace

What is illegal under California law is when the company doesn’t pay you for this time.

Why the metal manufacturing company fails to provide meal breaks

Why 1-2 minutes unpaid time before/ after you shift means that your employer failed to provide you with a meal period...
 
In the landmark Brinker California Supreme Court case, the California Supreme Court explained that the fundamental employer obligation associated with a meal break is "to relieve the employee of all duty and relinquish any employer control over the employee and how he or she spends the time." Brinker v. Superior Court 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1038-40 (2012). 
 
The employer satisfies this obligation if it:

1.   Relieves its employees of all duty,
2.   Relinquishes control over their activities
3.   Permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break
4.   Does not impede or discourage them from doing so.
Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1038-40 (2012).
 
I know the Brinker case very well, because I represented the workers in the Brinker case.
 
Since it takes 1-2 minutes to go through security, walk to the time clock and then clock in, this means that instead of a 30 minute lunch break, the workers are getting a 28-29 minute meal period.
 
This is a violation of California law.


What if the workers didn’t actually leave the facility for lunch?

This is still a violation under Brinker, because the metal manufacturing company impedes or discourages the employees from leaving the facility and/or doesn’t provide them a reasonable opportunity to leave the facility and get a 30 minute meal period.
 

The workers are entitled to an hour’s pay for every missed meal period

Under California Labor Code Section 226.7 the metal workers are entitled to an hour’s pay for every missed meal period. Here, that is, conservatively, one meal period per day.


What if I have to go through security during my rest breaks, is this against California law?

Under California law, under almost all of the California Wage Orders, you are entitled to a 10 minute rest break as follows:
 
          3.5 hours   rest break
             6 hours   rest break
           10 hours   rest break
           12 hours   rest break
           14 hours   rest break
 
If part of your 10 minute rest break is spent waiting in security line and/or a bag check; then under California law, you didn’t receive your 10 minute rest break.
 
In the Troester case, the court cited the Brinker California Supreme Court case and the Augustus vs. ABM California Supreme Court case. I represented the workers in the Brinker case and I wrote the winning Supreme Court brief in the Augustus case, thus I know both of these cases very well.
 

The Troester court stated:
 
For example, California law ensures that most nonexempt employees receive two daily 10-minute rest breaks. (Wage Order No. 5, subd. 12(A); see Brinker, supra, 53 Cal.4th at p. 1031.) We have interpreted Wage Order No. 5 as requiring strict adherence to that requirement, and we have scrupulously guarded against encroachments on this 10-minute period. Thus, we recently held that the obligation to relieve employees of any work-related duties during the rest period barred employers from requiring employees to be on call during their rest breaks  and that breach of this duty triggers an employer's obligation under section 226.7, subdivision (b) to pay the employee an additional hour of pay. (Augustus vs. ABM Security, supra, 2 Cal.5th at p. 265.)
 
Augustus vs. ABM Security, though addressing a different issue, is instructive in two respects. First, although the de minimis principle was not explicitly invoked, we implicitly rejected the argument that a de minimis intrusion into a 10-minute rest period would pass muster under the statute. Second, the strict construction of a law prohibiting any interference with or reduction of a 10-minute rest break is difficult to reconcile with a rule that would regard a few minutes of compensable time per day as a trifle not requiring compensation if too inconvenient to record.
Troester v. Starbucks Corp. (2018) 5 Cal.5th 829, 844-845.
 
The California Supreme Court in Troester was referring to Wage Order No. 5. Wage Order No. 1 - for the manufacturing industry, has the exact same provisions for rest periods as does Wage Order No. 5.
 
Thus, the Brinker, Augustus and Troester California Supreme Court cases are very clear, if you have to spend one minute (or even less) of your 10 minute rest period in a security check or bag check, then you didn’t receive your 10 minute rest break under California law.
 

The workers are entitled to an hour’s pay for every missed meal period

Under California Labor Code Section 226.7 the metal workers are entitled to an hour’s pay for every missed rest period. Here, that is, conservatively, one rest period per day.
 

Payment for all time worked

In this case study - the employer owes employees 1-2 minutes time for when they clock in to start the shift, 1-2 minutes when they leave for lunch, 1-2 minutes when they clock back in after lunch and 1-2 minutes for when they clock out at the end of their shift.
 
As the California Supreme Court observed in Troester, to many working families the unpaid wages are important to the family. 
 
But, when the company doesn’t pay wages, then there are also pay stub violations and waiting time penalties.


Why the workers are also owed for paycheck stub violations (up to $4,000)

The workers are also owed paycheck stub violations.  Since the company didn't put all of the hours you worked on the workers pay stubs, didn't put their gross pay and didn't put the net pay owed to the workers on their pay stubs, then they are entitled to paycheck stub violations. California Labor Code Section 226(a).
 
These 226 penalties are up to $4,000.

 

Why the workers are  also owed waiting time penalties

 
Since all of the workers wages weren't paid timely at time of termination, they’re also owed waiting time penalties.  California Labor Code Section 203. The waiting penalties you're owed are up to 30 days pay.
 
For example, if they made $22 an hour their waiting time penalties are as follows:

 
 
$22 x 8 hours = $176
 
$176 x 30 days = $5,280

 

Some recent class action lawsuits against metal manufacturers 

In the past few years, several class action wage lawsuits have been filed against metal manufacturers, including:

  • Universal Alloy Corp. In 2014, California manufacturing plant Universal Alloy Corp settled an unpaid wage claim for $4.75M, distributing back pay to over 770 workers. The company, which creates alloys for the airline industry, was accused of failing to pay overtime and minimum wage in violation of California labor law as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The settlement was split between workers at the company’s Georgia headquarters and employees at the Anaheim facility.
  • Airway Sheet Metal. In April 2019, Airway Sheet Metal Co., Inc., agreed to pay $110,548.20 in unpaid wages to 40 sheet metal workers in Washington DC after an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found evidence that Airway neglected to pay proper overtime rates and sick leave to workers. The case represents the OAG’s largest recovery to date in a wage-enforcement action, returning an average of $2,764 to each affected worker. As part of the settlement, Airway will also pay the District of Columbia $5,000 toward the city’s costs of pursuing the case and implement compliance measures within 60 days to ensure no further violations of the District’s Minimum Wage Act and Sick and Safe Leave Act.
  • Metal Technologies. A judge granted class-action status to a wage lawsuit in 2016 involving the manufacturer of automobile parts used by General Motors, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Honda. The Indiana-based manufacturing facility allegedly violated federal and state labor laws by changing employees’ payroll records to pay them only for their scheduled hours of work, illegally deducting wages to pay for work uniforms, and treating lunch breaks of twenty minutes or less as unpaid time.

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This article isn't legal advice
 
These discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. These testimonials, endorsements, photos and/or discussions do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation. Every case is different. There are any number of reasons why class actions are not certified, not won and/or PAGA actions are not successful.
 
Just because we have gotten great results in so many other unpaid wage cases, doesn't guarantee in particular result in other cases. Including, your wage case. Every case is different.
William Turley
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