Preliminary Approval Given to Class Action Settlement Resolving Wage and Hour Violation Allegations

On November 21, 2017, Law360 reported that

“[a] California federal judge preliminarily approved . . . Phillips 66’s $5.5 million settlement that would resolve a putative class action alleging the energy company violated wage and hour statutes shorting refinery operators’ pay, but she required the parties to refine the class notice so it’s easier to understand.”

A class-action complaint was filed in federal court against Phillips 66 in January 2017 by operators at Phillips 66’s California Refineries.  According to the complaint, refinery “operators work a continuous rotating shift during which they are never fully relieved from duty” and

“[t]hroughout their shifts, Phillips 66 requires Plaintiffs and the other operators to monitor the refining process, respond to upsets and critical events, and maintain the safe and stable operation of their units. In order to do so, Plaintiffs and the other operators are required to remain attentive, carry radios, and be reachable at all times during their shifts. Plaintiffs are also required to remain in contact with supervisors and other employees working in their unit throughout their shifts. As a result, Plaintiffs never receive off-duty breaks because they are constantly and continuously responsible for their units.”

The complaint also alleged that “[b]ecause operators are responsible for their units throughout their shifts, with no designated rest breaks or relief, Phillips 66 does not authorize or permit Plaintiffs to take off-duty rest breaks for every four-hour work period or major fraction thereof, as required by law.”

Additionally, according to the complaint, “Phillips 66 does not have a policy or system for providing relief to Plaintiffs to allow them to take off-duty rest breaks”; “Phillips 66 does not pay Plaintiffs an extra hour of wages for each work day during which they are not provided the off-duty rest breaks to which they are entitled under California law”; and Phillips 66 also routinely fails to maintain complete and accurate payroll records for Plaintiffs showing, inter alia, the gross and net wages earned, including wages for missed rest breaks.”

A copy of the initial complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of California, can be viewed by clicking Buzas, et al v. Phillips 66 Company.

Law360 also reported that

[s]ince the suit was filed, the parties struck a deal under which class counsel will receive up to 25 percent of the common fund, or $1.375 million, in fees and up to $40,000 for costs. Meanwhile, the three lead plaintiffs would each receive a $7,500 incentive award and the company will make a $37,000 payment to the state to resolve PAGA claims. On average, the approximately 530 class members will receive $5,500, depending on the number of shifts they had, according to court documents.

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The Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. is a multidisciplinary, plaintiff–side law firm dedicated to protecting investors and consumers from corporate fraud, negligence, and other wrongdoing. Driven by a strong and principled sense of social responsibility and obtaining justice for the aggrieved, Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. represents plaintiffs seeking to recover investment losses resulting from securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, corporate wrongdoing or malfeasance, those harmed by anticompetitive practices, and consumers victimized by fraud, negligence, false claims, deception, data breaches or whose rights to minimum wage and overtime compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws have been violated.