Last week, Chief Judge Conner in the Middle District of Pennsylvania approved a settlement in a wage theft case we brought against Vantage Foods on behalf of our client and the other workers at the Camp Hill, PA facility.
Vantage Foods opened the food processing facility outside of Harrisburg in late 2013 to process meat for Giant supermarkets in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Workers were required to don and sanitize personal protective equipment such as gloves, aprons, hairnets and other gear before they started getting paid. They also had to remove this equipment in order to start breaks and conclude their day.
The lawsuit alleged that workers were not receiving pay for the time that it took them to put on, take off and sanitize the equipment. It is well-established under the Fair Labor Standards Act that employees should be compensated for this time under the “continuous workday” rule. As a result of the lawsuit, a fund was set aside to compensate the workers for their unpaid time and the company changed its practices going forward.
We look forward to helping other workers who may not be getting paid for all of the time that they deserve. A report published last year concluded that hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers across PA were not being paid according to the law. It was estimated that Pennsylvania workers lose roughly $20 to $30 million in unpaid wages each week. If you are not receiving the appropriate pay, whether because the company is not paying overtime, minimum wage or another violation of the FLSA, please call us at (215) 545-8800.
An article online this month in the U.S. News & World Report covered five laws that your employer may be violating and three of them dealt with wage theft. These include treating workers as exempt from overtime pay, asking staff to work off the clock and hiring independent contractors but treating them like employees. These are expected to continue to happen at businesses until they get the message that wage theft will not be tolerated.
The Department of Labor has also been waging this battle on behalf of workers. Last year, it issued guidance clarifying that more independent contractors are actually wrongly classified. It also will update as early as this summer the overtime exemption salary cutoff for inflation, which could make as many as 5 million more employees eligible for time and a half during overtime hours through the Fair Labor Standards Act.
We continue to fight to eliminate wage theft. If you are aware of workers who are not being paid appropriately, please call (215) 545-8800 to speak to an attorney about stopping wage theft and compensation for the unpaid wages.