MALDEF

Gutierrez v. Paragon Schmid Building Products

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.

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund