KAG West and The Kenan Advantage Group, Inc., along with Kenan’s predecessor Beneto Bulk Transport, employ about 1,600 drivers to transport gasoline and other petroleum products from oil refineries to gas stations throughout California.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that drivers who don’t cross state lines be paid overtime when they work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, and California has a similar state law. KAG West drivers routinely worked 10- to 15-hour shifts without overtime pay and were required to work through meal and rest breaks and after they had clocked out.
Employee Ron Mowdy gave written notice of the statutory violations, but the companies made no attempt to change their policies and procedures. Mowdy and another employee filed a class action against KAG West, Beneto, and Kenan Advantage on behalf of two classes of California drivers: those who were denied overtime pay, meal breaks, or payment for off-the-clock work in violation of state law, and those who were denied overtime pay in violation of FLSA and California law.
The trial court granted class certification. While the defendants’ appeal was pending before the Ninth Circuit, the parties settled for $14 million, including $40,000 for Mowdy and $30,000 for the other named plaintiff. After attorney fees and costs, the rest will be allocated to the drivers based on the number of shifts they worked during the class period. A fairness hearing was held yesterday.
Citation: Mowdy v. Beneto Bulk Transp., No. 3:06-cv-05682 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 6, 2011).
Plaintiff counsel: Antonio M. Lawson and Sheila Y. Thomas, both of Oakland, California; and Jack W. Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato, and Kendra L. Tanacea, all of San Francisco.