In March 2007, MALDEF joined a class action lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars in wages owed to construction workers under California wage and hour laws. The claims for unpaid wages could affect over a thousand workers throughout California who work for defendants Western Insulation, Paragon Schmid, or Masco Contractor Services. The plaintiffs and putative class members, most Latino workers, install gutters, fireplaces, insulation, and other construction products at numerous locations throughout California. The defendant-employers are several subsidiaries of Masco Corporation, a Fortune 200 company that owns approximately 20 different installation yards throughout the state of California. The plaintiffs and the putative class allege that the defendants have a practice and policy of failing to pay installers for all hours worked at the proper rate of pay.

According to the plaintiffs, the installers regularly work between 10 to 14 hours per day, but are wrongfully denied pay for all the hours they work. Plaintiffs allege that they are not paid for preparatory pre-shift work, travel time to and from the job sites, and for post-shift work performed after an installation project is completed. The plaintiffs also allege that the defendants fail to pay the proper wage rate and overtime wages, fail to provide mandatory lunch and rest breaks, fail to pay for all wages due upon discharge, and subject the installers to unlawful payroll deductions for tool purchases and repair work. The claims against the defendants include violations of California’s Labor Code and Industrial Welfare Commission Orders.

The parties signed and entered into a joint stipulation of settlement and the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, which was heard and granted on November 17, 2008. Around December 24, 2008, the class administrator mailed class notices to approximately 3,000 class members. On February 9, 2009, class counsel filed a Motion for Final Approval of the settlement and an application for attorney fees. A final fairness hearing was held and the court issued an order approving the settlement on March 9, 2009. The settlement resolves all of the named plaintiffs’ and affected employees’ wage claims against defendants in exchange for an $8.5 million payment in damages and attorney fees and costs. The amount of compensation paid to each class member is dependent on the individual employee’s length of covered employment and his or her specific job and wage rate.

California law protects the basic right of all employees, including Latino workers, to an honest wage for an honest day’s work. These workers are no longer tolerating the exploitation of their labor and MALDEF supports them in these efforts.

MALDEF Joins Lawsuit To Recover Wages For Employees Who Were Forced To Work “Off The Clock” Without Pay

Claim for Unpaid Wages Could Affect Over a Thousand Workers Throughout California

May 16, 2007

LOS ANGELES, CA — In keeping with its mission to protect the rights of Latinos, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) announced today that it is joining a class action brought by over a thousand Latino construction workers who install gutters, fireplaces, insulation and other construction products at numerous locations throughout California. The case, Gutierrez et al. v. Schmid Insulation Contractors, Inc., et al., was filed in the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles.

“We were expected to arrive early and load Masco’s trucks at the company yards. We weren’t paid for that or for all of our time traveling to the job sites and setting up the equipment for work,” said lead plaintiff Arturo Navarrete. “We also didn’t get paid for all of our time traveling back to Masco’s yard and doing the unloading work. We just want to be paid for all the hours spent working for Masco,” he added.

“Masco and its local construction companies, such as Schmid Insulation and Paragon Schmid, often didn’t even pay workers fully for their time on the job site and, instead, required workers to change their time cards, making what they called ‘negative bonus’ deductions from their paychecks. A national company like Masco shouldn’t be able get away with this,” said Joel R. Villaseñor, attorney with the law firm Sullivan Taketa LLP.

“California law protects the basic right of all employees, including Latino workers, to an honest wage for an honest day’s work,” said Annabelle Gonzalves, MALDEF’s Los Angeles Regional Counsel. “By asserting their legal rights to fair treatment, these workers are making the statement that they will no longer tolerate the blatant exploitation of their labor. MALDEF is proud to stand with these courageous workers.” MALDEF has set up a toll-free number, (888) 546-7439, for potential class members to call if they have questions about the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks to recover millions of dollars in wages owed to over a thousand workers, going back to 2002 under California wage and hour laws. The defendant is Schmid Insulation Contractors, Inc., the California operating unit of one of the nation’s largest residential insulation, gutter, and fireplace installation companies, Masco Contractor Services. Plaintiffs intend to file an Amended Complaint naming a number of other affiliates of the nationwide Masco Corporation of Taylor, Michigan, that are engaged in the construction business in California.

According to Bill Lann Lee of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C., “The significance of this case is that Latino workers have stood up to vindicate their right to be paid fairly for their work. Latino workers have filed very few wage and hour cases despite the fact that they are such a large proportion of California’s workforce. This case is long overdue.” Mr. Lee was formerly the nation’s chief civil rights prosecutor as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the United States Department of Justice.

MALDEF Se Une A La Demanda Para Recuperar Los Salarios De Trabajadores Que Fueron Obligados A Trabajar Sin Paga

La Demanda por los Salarios No Pagados Podría Afectar a Más de Mil Trabajadores en California

May 16, 2007

LOS ANGELES, CA — Continuando con su misión de proteger los derechos de los latinos, el Fondo Mexicoamericano para la Defensa Legal y la Educación (MALDEF) anunció hoy que se está uniendo a una demanda colectiva presentada por más de mil empleados latinos de la construcción que instalan canales de desagüe, chimeneas, sistemas de aislamiento y otros productos de construcción en numerosos lugares en todo el estado de California. El nombre del caso es Gutiérrez et al. v. Schmid Insulation Contractors, Inc., et al., presentado en la Corte Superior de California para el Condado de Los Ángeles.

“Se esperaba que llegáramos temprano y cargáramos los camiones de Masco que estaban en los terrenos de la compañía. No se nos pagaba por esto ni por el tiempo de viaje a los lugares de trabajo ni por el tiempo que nos tomaba preparar el equipo y material de trabajo,” dijo uno de los dos demandantes principales, Arturo Navarrete. “Tampoco se nos pagaba por el tiempo de viaje de vuelta a Masco ni por el trabajo de descargar los camiones. Sólo queremos que se nos pague por todas las horas que hemos trabajado para Masco.”

“Masco y sus compañías locales de construcción, como Schmid Insulation y Paragon Schmid, a menudo dejaban de pagar en su totalidad a sus empleados por su tiempo en el lugar de empleo, y en su lugar, le requerían a sus empleados que cambiaran las tarjetas de sus horarios, haciendo deducciones de sus cheques, las cuales llamaban ‘bonos negativos’. Una compañía nacional como Masco no debería ser capaz de salirse con la suya”, dijo Joel R. Villaseñor, abogado del bufete Sullivan Taketa LLP.

“La ley de California protege el derecho básico de todos los empleados, incluyendo los trabajadores latinos, a recibir un salario justo por una jornada laboral justa”, dijo la abogada Annabelle Gonzalves, consejera regional de MALDEF en Los Ángeles. “Al hacer valer sus derechos por un trato justo, estos trabajadores están afirmando que nunca más tolerarán la descarada explotación de su trabajo. MALDEF está orgulloso de unirse a estos valientes trabajadores.” MALDEF ha establecido un número de teléfono libre de costo, (888) 546-7439, para que miembros potenciales de la clase puedan llamar si tienen preguntas sobre la demanda.

La demanda busca recuperar millones de dólares en salarios adeudados a más de mil trabajadores desde el año 2002, bajo las leyes de salarios y horarios de California. El demandado es Schmid Insulation Contractors, Inc., la unidad operativa de California de la empresa Masco Contractor Services, una de las compañías de instalación de sistemas de aislamiento, canales de desagüe y chimeneas más grandes de la nación. Los demandantes piensan presentar una demanda enmendada nombrando a otras filiales de Masco Corporation de Taylor, Michigan, que están involucradas en el negocio de la construcción en California.

De acuerdo a Bill Lann Lee del bufete de abogados Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C., y uno de los consejeros legales de MALDEF, “el significado de este caso es que los trabajadores latinos se han levantado para exigir su derecho a recibir un salario justo por su trabajo. A pesar de ser una gran proporción de la mano de obra en California, los trabajadores latinos han presentado muy pocas demandas para reclamar salarios. Ya era hora que se presentara una demanda como ésta.” El señor Lee fue el fiscal principal en materia de derechos civiles de la nación, en su cargo de Procurador General Auxiliar para los Derechos Civiles en el Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos.