Starbucks to Pay Workers $3 Million Class Action Settlement Over Missed Breaks
By Amanda Antell
The Starbucks wage settlement will end a five-year-long class action lawsuit from Starbucks workers who stated they were denied off-duty breaks because the coffeehouse was too busy and understaffed, despite a company policy mandating they take breaks.
Former barista and shift supervisor Summer York originally filed the class action lawsuit in December 2008, had said Starbucks managed to get around their written meal and rest break policies through its automated labor scheduling system, management bonus structure, and various customer service imperatives. This caused workers to be reluctant in taking their own breaks.
Class Members of the Starbucks employee class action settlement include cafe attendants, baristas and shift supervisors who worked for Starbucks’ California locations between December 2, 2007 and January 2013. The plaintiffs alleged the company’s ‘two-partner rule’ prevented the employees from taking uninterrupted meal breaks, as required by state law. By company regulation, when only two employees are present on shift, company policy dictated that neither could leave their station for breaks, forcing them to take on-duty meal breaks, according to the suit.
The class action settlement agreement is expected to be signed by May 22, according to Friday’s motion.
Currently, for California state law, meal period violations are very common. A proper, lawful meal period is 30 minutes long, and the employee cannot perform any work-related obligations during those 30 minutes periods. Employees are entitled to a meal period if they work more than five hours at a time, and are entitled to a second meal period if they work more than 10 hours at a time.
If an employee misses the meal period, has to make work-related phone calls, or run work-related errands during their designated meal period, he or she is entitled to one hour of extra pay. Notably, California employers must keep records of each meal period each non-exempt employee takes extending back to three years. These records usually are in the form of time cards, showing when each employee clocked out for lunch and clocked back in afterward. If an employer cannot produce these records, the employer must present some other form of evidence that their employees received their meal breaks.
If an employer fails to reimburse the employee for their missed meal break, an employee may collect the one extra hour of pay for each missed meal period up to three or four years from the date the lawsuit is filed. If the plaintiff can prove the employer intentionally refused to pay minimum wage, overtime, double-time, or reimburse missed meal periods, the employer can be held liable for penalties. These penalties include 30 days of pay for each aggrieved employee.
If you believe you have been the victim of a wage and hour violation of any nature, you have legal options. Please visit the Wage & Hour Unpaid Wage Class Action Lawsuit Investigation. There, you can submit your claim for a free legal review and if it qualifies for legal action, a wage and hour lawyer will contact you for a free, no-obligation consultation. You will be guided through the litigation process at no out-of-pocket expenses or hidden fees. The hour and wage attorneys working this investigation do not get paid until you do.
Updated May 22nd, 2013
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