Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento County to pay $795,000 to water-treatment workers in overtime suit

Large pumps fill a building at wastewater treatment plant for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District near Elk Grove on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Large pumps fill a building at wastewater treatment plant for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District near Elk Grove on Friday, May 16, 2014. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Sacramento County will pay $795,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit by county water-treatment plant operators over owed wages and overtime pay after a Sacramento Superior Court judge approved the settlement Tuesday.

In all, 151 workers from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Elk Grove joined the December 2011 action against the county. It was filed after veteran plant workers and lead plaintiffs Steve Cox, Vern Simunek and Michael Bradbury complained that they and fellow employees weren’t being paid for required tasks that included donning mandatory safety gear at the plant before starting their work shifts.

Sacramento County did not admit liability and the settlement “represents a compromise … rather than the result of finding liability at trial,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge Alan G. Perkins wrote in his order granting the settlement.

Perkins scheduled a Feb. 16 hearing for final approval of the settlement.

“The settlement provides significant benefits to class members in the form of compensation for the number of total hours worked,” said Perkins in his order.

According to court documents, $538,500 will go into a fund to pay back wages to the plant employees and $220,500 will go to attorneys’ fees. Awards will range from $200 to $5,000 based on the employee’s classification and time worked, said plaintiffs’ attorney Gary Goyette of Sacramento firm Goyette & Associates, on Tuesday, calling the settlement “a fair compromise.”

Cox filed a grievance with Sacramento County in January 2011 that he and others weren’t paid for their locker room time before and after their shifts even though they were barred by county regulations from dressing at or taking their gear home. The county denied the grievance in March of that year.

Awards will range from $200 to $5,000 based on employee classification and time worked

In his lawsuit, filed in June 2011, attorneys argued that employees also were not paid for other preshift time including mandatory briefings saying Sacramento County’s “past and ongoing failure” to provide any pay for preshift time violated contract terms.

Attorneys also alleged the failure to pay wages or overtime for required preshift duties violated state minimum-wage laws and labor codes, and that county plant employers violated employment law by failing to keep records of employees’ work hours.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

  Comments