Beef- and Pork-Processing Plant Antitrust Investigation

Employees of one or more of the following companies, their subsidiaries and/or related entities in the continental United States anytime between January 1, 2014 and the present are encouraged to contact Kehoe Law Firm, P.C., John Kehoe, Esq., (215) 792-6676, Ext. 801, [email protected], [email protected], for a free evaluation of potential legal claims:

JBS USA Food Company; Tyson Foods, Inc.; Cargill, Inc.; Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.; Hormel Foods Corp.; American Foods Group, LLC; Triumph Foods, LLC; Seaboard Foods, LLC; National Beef Packing Co., LLC; Iowa Premium LLC; Smithfield Foods Inc.; Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp.; Agri Beef Co.; Washington Beef, LLC; Perdue Farms, Inc.; Agri Stats, Inc.; Webber, Meng, Sahl & Company, Inc. d/b/a WMS & Company, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants” or “Defendant Processors”).

According to a class-action complaint filed on November 11, 2022 in United States District Court for the District of Colorado, since at least 2014, the Defendants have conspired and combined to fix and depress the compensation paid to employees at red meat processing plants in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.

The class-action complaint alleges that the Defendant Processors have compensated Class Members with hourly wages or annual salaries and employment benefits. Each Defendant Processor, according to the complaint, has established a schedule for hourly wage rates, annual salaries, and employment benefits based on the specific position and years of experience of the Class Members. Further, senior executives of each Defendant Processor established and approved those hourly wage rates, annual salaries, and employment benefits at corporate headquarters during the Class Period. Allegedly, this highly-regimented process for determining compensation allowed Defendant Processors to compare compensation practices – and collectively suppress compensation – across their workforces.

The Defendant Processors, allegedly, implemented, monitored, and enforced their conspiracy to fix and depress compensation paid to Class Members through a series of overt acts, including, for example, “secret compensation surveys, “secret annual meetings,” and “direct communications among executives,” whereby Defendant Processors’ senior executives extensively discussed, compared, and, in turn, further suppressed compensation through email and phone communications. Those conspiratorial communications, according to the complaint, included both group emails to senior executives for purposes of aligning Defendant Processors’ compensation practices and bilateral communications meant to adopt time-sensitive plans for future compensation.

Moreover, in furtherance of their conspiracy to depress Class Members’ wages, the Defendant Processors also, allegedly, entered into illegal “no poach” agreements with each other to refrain from recruiting one another’s employees.

The Defendant Processors, according to the complaint, also engaged in the conspiracy to increase their profits by reducing labor costs, which comprise a substantial share of each Defendant Processor’s total operating costs. The intended and actual effect of Defendants’ conspiracy to fix compensation, allegedly, has been to reduce and suppress the wages, salaries, and benefits paid to Class Members since January 2014 to levels materially lower than they would have been in a competitive market.


Antitrust Investigation on Behalf of Employees of Certain Beef- and Pork Processing Facilities


Government Crackdown on Abusive, Illegal Pay Practices in San Diego

Three More San Diego-area Customs Warehouses Found Paying Workers in Mexican Pesos at a Rate of $2.50 Per Hour in Violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Federal court orders the customs warehouses to pay almost $2M in back wages, penalties.

Since the investigation of Premar Global Warehouse Logistics in September 2021, Wage and Hour Division investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) have found three more San Diego-area customs warehouses paying workers in Mexican pesos at an equivalent rate of as little as $2.50 per hour in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

Based on these investigations, the DOL’s Office of the Solicitor reached consent judgments against the three employers, Columbia Export Group PDSA, OMG Global Logistics and Atlas Freight Forwarding, resulting in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ordering the companies to pay nearly $2 million combined in minimum and overtime back wages to 108 workers.

The companies have also been ordered to pay $56,675 in penalties given their reckless disregard of the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.

DOL investigators determined Columbia Export Group PDSA, OMG Global Logistics, and Atlas Freight Forwarding engaged in similar schemes to exploit workers and circumvent the FLSA, including using affiliates in Mexico to pay their employees as if they worked in Mexico, not in the United States.

Findings of the U.S. Department of Labor investigations 

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Kehoe Law Firm, P.C.

Do wages include overtime in California? Is overtime pay required?

Wages Include Overtime Pay in California

In California, wages are considered compensation for an employee’s personal services, whether paid by check or cash, or the fair cash value of noncash payments such as meals and lodging.

Payments are considered wages even if the employee is a casual worker, a day or contract laborer, part-time or temporary worker, or paid by the day, hour, or any other method or measurement.

In California, wages include, but are not limited to:

  • Salaries, hourly pay, piece rate, or payments by the job.
  • Commissions and bonuses.
  • Overtime and vacation pay.
  • The reasonable cash value of compensation other than cash.
Required Pay for Overtime for Nonexempt Employees in California

In California, the general overtime provisions are that a nonexempt employee 18 years of age or older, or any minor employee 16 or 17 years of age who is not required by law to attend school and is not otherwise prohibited by law from engaging in the subject work, shall not be employed more than eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek unless he or she receives one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in any workday and over 40 hours in the workweek (or double time as specified below).

Eight hours of labor constitutes a day’s work, and employment beyond eight hours in any workday or more than six days in any workweek requires the employee to be compensated for the overtime at not less than:

One and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight hours up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek; and

Double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

In California, there are, however, a number of exemptions from the overtime law. An “exemption” means that the overtime law does not apply to a particular classification of employees. There are also a number of exceptions to the general overtime law stated above. An “exception” means that overtime is paid to a certain classification of employees on a basis that differs from that stated above.  In other words, an exception is a special rule.

What is the “regular rate of pay,” and how does it relate to overtime?

Overtime is based on the regular rate of pay, which is the compensation you normally earn for the work you perform. The regular rate of pay includes a number of different kinds of remuneration, such as hourly earnings, salary, piecework earnings, and commissions. In no case may the regular rate of pay be less than the applicable minimum wage.

CLICK HERE for more information about computing the regular rate and for examples of how to calculate the regular rate of pay.

If an employee works unauthorized overtime is the employer obligated to pay for it?

Yes! California law requires that employers pay overtime, whether authorized or not, at the rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of eight up to and including 12 hours in any workday, and for the first eight hours of work on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, and double the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 12 in any workday and for all hours worked in excess of eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

An employer can discipline an employee if he or she violates the employer’s policy of working overtime without the required authorization. California’s wage and hour laws, however, require that the employee be compensated for any hours he or she is “suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” California case law holds that “suffer or permit” means work the employer knew or should have known about.

Is a bonus included in the regular rate of pay for purposes of calculating overtime?

Yes, if it is a non-discretionary bonus. A non-discretionary bonus is included in determining the regular rate of pay for computing overtime when the bonus is compensation for hours worked, production or proficiency, or as an incentive to remain employed by the same employer. Incentive bonuses include flat sum bonuses.

Are any amounts excluded from the regular rate of pay?

Yes, there are certain types of payments that are excluded from the regular rate of pay. Examples of some of the more common exclusions are sums paid as gifts for special occasions, expense reimbursements, payments made for occasional periods when no work is performed due to vacation, holiday, illness, failure of the employer to provide sufficient work, premium pay for Saturday, Sunday, or holiday work (where such premium rate is not less than one and one-half times the rate established in good faith for like work performed in non-overtime hours on other days), and discretionary bonuses.

Are salaried employees entitled to overtime?

A salaried employee must be paid overtime unless they meet the test for exempt status as defined by federal and state laws, or unless they are specifically exempted from overtime by the provisions of the California Labor Code or one of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders regulating wages, hours and working conditions.

Can an employer require an employee to work overtime?

Yes. Generally, an employer may dictate the employee’s work schedule and hours. Additionally, under most circumstances the employer may discipline an employee, up to and including termination, if the employee refuses to work scheduled overtime. However, an employer cannot discipline an employee for refusing to work on the 7th day in a workweek and is subject to a penalty for causing or inducing an employee not to take a day of rest. An employee who is fully apprised of the entitlement to rest may independently chooses not to take a day of rest.

When must I be paid for the overtime hours I work?

Overtime wages must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after which the overtime wages were earned. (Labor Code Section 204) Only the payment of overtime wages may be delayed to the payday of the next following payroll period as the straight time wages must still be paid within the time set forth in the applicable Labor Code section in the pay period in which they were earned; or, in the case of employees who are paid on a weekly, biweekly, or semimonthly basis, not more than seven calendar days following the close of the payroll period.

Can an employee waive his or her right to overtime compensation?

No! California law requires that an employee be paid all overtime compensation notwithstanding any agreement to work for a lesser wage. Consequently, such an agreement or “waiver” will not prevent an employee from recovering the difference between the wages paid the employee and the overtime compensation he or she is entitled to receive. (Labor Code Section 1194).

Source: California Department of Industrial Relations (accessed 04.03.2022); Employment Development Department, State of California (accessed 04.03.2022).

Employees in California Who Believe They Have Been Victims of Employer Wage and Hour Violations


American Airlines Employee Training Modules Subject of Pay Action

On February 8, 2022, a collective action complaint was filed in federal court against American Airlines, Inc. for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and overtime provisions of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (“IMWL”).

The Plaintiff, according to the complaint, was employed by American Airlines as an hourly, non-exempt Fleet Service Clerk who is required to complete quarterly training modules, each of which last 4-5 hours.  The Plaintiff and other hourly American Airlines employees (e.g., Fleet Service Clerks, Mechanics, Gate Agents, Cargo Workers), allegedly, are required to complete the training at the end of their shift when they are no longer clocked in for work.

The complaint alleges that American Airlines regularly fails to pay the Plaintiff and other hourly employees for the time spent completing the quarterly training or pays their regular pay rate instead of the overtime rate of pay, even if the hourly employees worked more than 40 hours in a particular week. Further, according to the complaint, refusal to complete the training results in employee discipline, up to and including employment termination.

American Airlines Employees Who Believe They Were Not Properly Compensated For Attending Quarterly Training Modules

American Airlines hourly, non-exempt employees who have not been paid proper wages or overtime, or have been otherwise harmed by employer wage and hour violations, are encouraged to contact Kehoe Law Firm, P.C., [email protected], for a free, confidential consultation and no-obligation evaluation of potential legal claims.  


Panera Bread Employees – Overtime Pay Investigation

Overtime Wages Investigation On Behalf Of Hourly, Non-Exempt Panera Bread Employees 

Recently, a class and collective action complaint was filed in federal court against Panera, LLC (“Panera”) seeking to recover unpaid overtime compensation and other damages for non-exempt, hourly employees (e.g., baristas, counter workers, associates, cashiers, cleaners, bakers, sandwich/salad makers, other cooks) who work or have worked for Panera at “Panera Bread” cafes in New York.

Panera, according to the complaint, maintains a policy and practice whereby hourly workers are subject to “time shaving” by store managers. Time shaving, allegedly, caused the Plaintiff and other hourly employees not to be paid proper overtime wages, despite working over 40 hours in a workweek in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and New York Labor Law (“NYLL”).

Hourly Panera Bread Employees Who Have Been Subject To “Time Shaving” Or Other Employer Wage & Hour Violations

Hourly, non-exempt Panera employees who believe they have been harmed by employer wage and hour violations are encouraged to contact Kehoe Law Firm, P.C., [email protected] for a free, confidential consultation and no-obligation evaluation of potential legal claims.  



Are you an hourly, non-exempt Chipotle employee?

Wage and Hour Class Action Lawsuit Filed On Behalf Of Hourly, Non-Exempt Employees Who Work/Worked In California Chipotle Restaurants 

On February 3, 2022, a class action lawsuit was filed against Chipotle Services LLC (“Chipotle”) and other defendants, as of yet unknown, in Superior Court of the State of California.

According to the complaint, the defendants implemented uniform policies and practices that deprived Plaintiffs and Class Members of earned wages, including minimum wages, straight time wages, overtime wages, premium wages, reporting time wages, lawful meal and/or rest breaks, reimbursement for necessary expenses, and timely payment of wages.

According to the complaint, hourly, non-exempt employees of Chipotle in California were harmed by the Chipotle defendants’ alleged policy of, among other things, time shaving hours worked; failing to accurately calculate all hours worked; requiring shift work in excess of five hours without a lawful meal period and, occasionally, more than 10 hours in a day without a second lawful meal period; requiring Plaintiff and Class Members to drive during work hours to other stores without reimbursement for mileage; and requiring Plaintiffs to launder and maintain their uniforms without proper reimbursement.

Chipotle Employees In California Who Believe They Have Been Harmed By Employer Wage And Hour Violations

Hourly, non-exempt Chipotle employees in California who believe they have been harmed by employer wage and hour violations are encouraged to contact Kehoe Law Firm, P.C., Michael Yarnoff, Esq., (215) 792-6676, Ext. 804, [email protected], [email protected] for a free, confidential consultation and no-obligation evaluation of potential legal claims.