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Siemens accused of violating wage and hour laws

A class action lawsuit was lodged against Siemens in California recently. An attorney acting on behalf of hundreds of workers both former and current alleged in U.S. District Court that the German company's rail systems arm had violated wage and hour laws and was seeking more than $10 million in general, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as penalties for waiting time, interest accrued during that time and legal fees.

The lead plaintiff was a former fitter and welder at the manufacturing plant, but there were 300 to 600 non-exempt employees now working at Siemens or who had worked there who the suit sought compensation. The specific allegation made in the class action was that over the four previous years, Siemens employees worked extended hours without receiving the rest periods and second meal breaks that California law requires. The attorney who filed the lawsuit alleged that non-exempt employees were working as long as 13 hours per day without the required breaks.

In addition to breaks not being provided to workers, Siemens also was accused in the legal action of not even having a company policy about additional meal breaks and rest periods for workers putting in extra hours. In a 2012 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers were required to provide such breaks but not required to ensure that those breaks were actually taken.

Wage and hour violations are against the law. Employees required or pressured to skip rest breaks may have their grievances addressed in court. Employers discovered to be manipulating time cards or otherwise trying to get around wage and hour laws may face civil and criminal charges. Also, paying workers less than minimum wage may result in courts awarding damages to employees who have been denied their rights.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal , "Attorney files wage-and-hour suit against Siemens", Kathy Robertson, January 21, 2014

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