Auto-deduction cases involve a potential class of employees who allege that they were not paid for time worked because their employer automatically deducted time for meal breaks. The employees claim that, for various reasons, they were not able to take their breaks and, therefore, are owed for the time that was deducted from their hours worked. These claims have been on the rise in the past few years but, recently, have seen rougher times as more and more courts have refused to certify the class.
A recent decision from the District of Massachusetts is another case to add to that list. In Raposo v. Garelick Farms, LLC, a group of truck drivers sought back pay for time worked during meal breaks that were automatically deducted from their pay. The court denied the plaintiff-employees’ motion for class certification, though, concluding that the employees had failed to meet their burden of proof.
The court’s analysis was simple but solid, looking to two issues. First, did the employees show that everyone in the class had worked through their breaks and, if so, did they do so for the same reason? Second, could the employees’ damages be calculated on a class-wide basis? The court answered both questions in the negative.
As to the first issue, the court found that some employees had taken their meal breaks but others had not. Among those who claimed to have worked through the break, the reasons for doing so varied between employees and changed frequently. So, the court concluded, the answer to the first question—can liability be established on a class-wide basis—was “no.”
Turning to the second issue, the court found that some employees had complained to their respective supervisors and, as a result, been compensated for the missed breaks. Whether or not they complained and to whom they complained affected whether or not they were later paid for the missed time.
As a result, the court found that certification was not appropriate. Another victory for employers who find themselves facing a wage-and-hour lawsuit for unpaid meal breaks.
Raposo v. Garelick Farms, LLC, No. 11-11943-NMG (D. Mass. July 11, 2013).
8th Cir- FLSA Plaintiffs Must Spell It Out (Carmody v. Kan. City Bd. of Police Comm’rs (8th Cir. Apr. 23, 2013)).
2d Cir- FLSA Does Not Cover Gap Time (Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. (2d Cir. Mar. 1, 2013)).
Another Employer's Auto-Deduct Policy Is Upheld (Creeley v. HCR ManorCare, Inc., (N.D. Ohio Jan. 31, 2013)).
6th Cir. Affirms Dismissal of FLSA Gotcha Litigation (White v. Baptist Mem'l Health Care Corp. (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2012)).
The Legality of Automatically Deducting Meal Breaks (Camilotes v. Resurrection Health Care Corp. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 4, 2012)).
E.D. Pa. Dismisses Nurses' Claims for Missed Meal Breaks, Part I and Part II (Lynn v. Jefferson Health Sys., Inc. (E.D. Pa. Aug. 8, 2012)).
FLSA Victory: Class Certification Denied (Pennington v. Integrity Comm’n, LLC (E.D. Mo. Oct. 11, 2012)).