One of the most common types of disputes that arise between employers and employees is a dispute involving wages. Whether an alleged violation is the result of an oversight or deliberate actions, it can have serious consequences for the employer - it's the newest craze by plaintiff's lawyers.
Recently, for instance, Frito-Lay Inc. resolved a wage violation dispute with 254 truck drivers. The company agreed to pay $6.5 million for failure to pay for meal and rest breaks, which are two of the most common areas of an employer's exposure.
In Frito-Lay, the truckers accused their employer of several wage and hour violations, alleging that the company did not keep accurate wage or hour records for the drivers and did not pay the drivers for all the hours they worked. This included paying them during meal and rest breaks, which is required under state law.
Meal and rest breaks
Compensation for meal and rest breaks has been a divisive issue in California and fertile ground for a lawsuit. Specifically with respect to the trucking industry, employees have been targeting their employers for failing to comply with the California requirement to provide drivers with paid meal breaks every five hours when they are driving and one 10-minute result period for every four hours.
Avoiding similar situations
Considering that the damages, fines and penalties for wage and hour violations can be prohibitively expensive, it is typically best to avoid such a claim in the first place by working with an attorney to review your compensation policies and ensure they are in line with state and federal laws. If you find yourself on the wrong end of a wage and hour complaint, contact an employment attorney immediately to protect your rights and minimize your exposure.