Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018!
Training, policies and tools to help HR prevent and respond to harassment claims.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Wage and hour claims have, over the past several years, substantially increased. Most often, the claims address issues such as exempt status or improper classification of workers as independent contractors. Less frequent violations, such as improper break periods or wage statements, can also result in significant exposure to an employer, as recently highlighted by a federal district court in California.
Eduardo Nunez worked for BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair Inc. BAE maintained a shipyard in San Diego Bay, where it performed a variety of work on government and commercial vessels. BAE worked on services related to the U.S. Navy.
Nunez, on behalf of himself and as lead plaintiff of a class action of nonexempt employees at BAE, sued his employer, alleging that he and the other employees were not provided the legally mandated 30-minute meal break period. According to Nunez's complaint, before being released for a break, there would typically be 100 employees lined up to pass through a checkpoint. This caused a delay, in addition to time spent disembarking from the ship and returning tools, all of which allegedly infringed upon the 30 minutes allotted to the employees.
[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What are the meal and rest break requirements for California employees?]
Nunez also alleged that BAE required employees to purchase clothes and shoes from the company without reimbursement. As such, he asserted, BAE's wage statements were inaccurate. BAE denied all allegations of wrongdoing and participated in extended settlement efforts with Nunez.
The settlement efforts culminated in an agreement to pay a maximum of $2.9 million to settle the claims of up to approximately 1,930 potential class members. In approving the settlement, the federal district court found the potential liability, as estimated by Nunez, to be approximately $11.5 million. However, based on the potential weaknesses of the case, the court found the agreed-to figure to be a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution of the lawsuit.
Nunez v. BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair, S.D. Cal., No. 16-CV-2162 (Feb. 13, 2017).
Professional Pointer: Wage and hour compliance can quickly become a complicated matter, particularly with regard to state and local laws. A complete understanding of the legal requirements of each jurisdiction in which a company operates, as well as audits to ensure compliance, are essential to avoiding costly liabilities.
Scott M. Wich is an attorney with the law firm of Clifton Budd & DeMaria LLP in New York City.
Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter.
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Your session has expired. Please log in again before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies