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Garbage truckers’ gripes

Lawsuit claims city devised computer program to cheat workers

City of San Diego garbage truck
City of San Diego garbage truck

While some members on the city council push to increase the minimum wage, attorneys for the city will be preparing their defense in a class-action lawsuit from an employee who says the city violated California's labor code for hundreds of hourly employees.

The May 23 legal complaint filed by industrial garbage truck worker Thomas Perez alleges that the city failed to provide time for meals, pay proper overtime wages, and doctored time cards to make it appear as if all meals and breaks were provided.

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Reads the lawsuit: "On information and belief, Plaintiff and all other members of the proposed Class experienced Defendants [City of San Diego's] policies of failing to pay all straight time and overtime wages owed, auto-meal deduct, and providing no rest periods and no meal periods to employees working at least five hours or any additional meal periods for working in excess of 10 hours, or compensation in lieu thereof, not paying for all time worked and/or one way rounding. On information and belief; Defendants willfully failed to pay their employees in a timely manner compensation owing to them upon termination of their employment….

"Defendants devised an automatic deduct practice, manual method, electronic system, payroll system and/or a computer program to edit the actual hours reported by Plaintiff and the Class members, deducting a portion of the hours shown as worked hours when a meal period and/or rest period was not taken during the work day and/or Plaintiff and the members were not relieved of all duties. Defendants did not make reasonable efforts to determine whether the time deducted was actually worked as reported by Plaintiff and the class members. Defendants without a reasonable basis, presumed that actual reported hours had not been accurately reported. The conduct complained of is a form of what is sometimes called ‘dinging,’ ‘shaving,’ or ‘scrubbing’ and is prohibited by law, Defendants also failed to pay the overtime that was due..."

But that is not all. According to the complaint, the Environmental Services Department made it standard practice to assign longer routes and more than a full day’s work, which prevented employees from "breaking route" and taking breaks.

If true, the allegations would not only violate the state's labor laws but also the city's regulations.

"All hourly status employees are eligible for premium rate overtime pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in their workweek and may not receive compensatory time credits in lieu of pay," reads the regulations posted on the city's website."

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City of San Diego garbage truck
City of San Diego garbage truck

While some members on the city council push to increase the minimum wage, attorneys for the city will be preparing their defense in a class-action lawsuit from an employee who says the city violated California's labor code for hundreds of hourly employees.

The May 23 legal complaint filed by industrial garbage truck worker Thomas Perez alleges that the city failed to provide time for meals, pay proper overtime wages, and doctored time cards to make it appear as if all meals and breaks were provided.

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Reads the lawsuit: "On information and belief, Plaintiff and all other members of the proposed Class experienced Defendants [City of San Diego's] policies of failing to pay all straight time and overtime wages owed, auto-meal deduct, and providing no rest periods and no meal periods to employees working at least five hours or any additional meal periods for working in excess of 10 hours, or compensation in lieu thereof, not paying for all time worked and/or one way rounding. On information and belief; Defendants willfully failed to pay their employees in a timely manner compensation owing to them upon termination of their employment….

"Defendants devised an automatic deduct practice, manual method, electronic system, payroll system and/or a computer program to edit the actual hours reported by Plaintiff and the Class members, deducting a portion of the hours shown as worked hours when a meal period and/or rest period was not taken during the work day and/or Plaintiff and the members were not relieved of all duties. Defendants did not make reasonable efforts to determine whether the time deducted was actually worked as reported by Plaintiff and the class members. Defendants without a reasonable basis, presumed that actual reported hours had not been accurately reported. The conduct complained of is a form of what is sometimes called ‘dinging,’ ‘shaving,’ or ‘scrubbing’ and is prohibited by law, Defendants also failed to pay the overtime that was due..."

But that is not all. According to the complaint, the Environmental Services Department made it standard practice to assign longer routes and more than a full day’s work, which prevented employees from "breaking route" and taking breaks.

If true, the allegations would not only violate the state's labor laws but also the city's regulations.

"All hourly status employees are eligible for premium rate overtime pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in their workweek and may not receive compensatory time credits in lieu of pay," reads the regulations posted on the city's website."

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