Lawsuit: Employees at local factories owed money for attending company pre-shift meetings

Aaron Krause • Oct 15, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Operators at Windsor Mold, USA, Inc.'s Bellevue plants are owed unpaid overtime and wages earned from attending mandatory pre-shift meetings for which they were not compensated dating back three years, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of 200 to 300 people who work at Precision Automotive Plastics and Auto Plas. The lawsuit was filed by Sandusky law firm Murray and Murray Co., L.P.A.

The suit claims that under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and Ohio law, the meetings must be counted toward the employee's accumulation of time worked. Therefore, the employees must be compensated at their regular pay rate -- and at the overtime pay rate if the employee worked more than 40 hours in the pay period because attendance was required, according to the lawsuit.

"The pre-shift meetings at issue begin 20 minutes before a shift is scheduled to take over operation of a plant, attendance is mandatory, and employees must be on-time," the lawsuit states. "Employees who arrive even a few minutes late are subject to disciplinary action, up to, and including termination. Yet, plant operators are specifically instructed not to include the 20 minutes spent in the pre-shift meeting on the sign-in sheet on which they calculate their wages. Consequently, plant operators are being routinely and regularly shorted for 20 minutes of pay for each shift worked. Worse yet, those whom the unpaid 20 minutes causes their workweek to exceed 40 hours, are being deprived of overtime pay at 1 1/2 times their base rate, as required by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).

"The action seeks such unpaid wages owed to the class of employees, a declaratory judgment that the meetings are compensable time, and an injunction to prevent future deprivation of wages for the required meetings."

Representatives at both plants said company officials had no comment on the lawsuit.

"I'm to tell you we have no comment," said a person who answered the phone at Precision, after putting a Reflector reporter on hold for a moment.

A representative at Autoplas, when asked whether plants officials had any comment, had this to say: "No, I don't think so. Good-bye."

Attorney Leslie Murray said the defendants have countered that they're paying them for time spent in the meetings, but not for their lunch time, which lasts 20 minutes. Murray referred to that time as not lunch but a "break."

The attorney said under a federal law, employers must pay workers for such breaks in work time.

"Bona fide meal periods are not worktime," Murray siid. "The bona fide meal periods do not include coffee breaks or time for snacks. These are rest periods. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purposes of eating regular meals. Ordinarily 30 minutes or more is long enough for a bona fide meal period."

Murray said each of the 200 to 300 employees makes about $12 to $18 per hour and almost always work at least 40 hours a week. She alleges they're owed for time on average 20 minutes a day, five days a week for two to three years at time and a half.

Windsor Mold is owned by the Windsor Mold Group of Canada. Windsor Mold manufactures plastic molding parts used in the automotive industry and employs workers known as "plant operators," who assemble parts and operate equipment, such as presses and mold injection machinery.

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