$5.6 million settlement approved in class action suit alleging unfair wages and working conditions

By Sandra Lane | Jun 12, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted a motion for final approval and certification of a settlement in a class action regarding worker wages and hours.

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted a motion for final approval and certification of a settlement in a class action regarding worker wages and hours.

The lawsuit concerned a class action filed Dec. 27, 2015 by Earl Fronda on behalf of himself and 4,407 class members against Staffmark Holdings Inc. and CBS Personnel Services LLC (together, the CBS Defendants), the June 1 filing by James said. 

The court preliminarily approved the  class action settlement proposed by Fronda and CBS Personnel Services on Nov. 27, 2017, the filing noted. The plaintiff and CBS Defendants settled their claims in private mediation on Jan. 4, 2018.

Plaintiff now seeks final approval of the settlement, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Neither CBS Defendants nor CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc., another defendant in the case, opposed the motion for final approval.

In filing the complaint, which included defendant CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc., plaintiff asserted eight claims based on California state law: (1) failure to provide meal periods, (2) failure to provide rest periods, (3) failure to pay hourly wages, (4) failure to provide accurate written wage statements, (5) failure to timely pay all final wages, (6) failure to pay wages without discount, (7) unfair competition, and (8) civil penalties under the private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).

James said in her ruling that the court held a hearing on these matters on May 31, 2018. “Having considered the parties’ positions, the relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the court grants the motion for final approval and grants in part the motion for attorneys’ fees and enhancement award,” the ruling said.

Regarding distribution of settlement payments, the ruling said the settling defendants agreed to pay a maximum sum of $5.6 million. As outlined in the ruling, this figure includes (1) payments to class members, (2) class counsel’s attorneys’ fees and costs, (3) administration costs, (4) any enhancement award to plaintiff, and (5) payment to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA).

The ruling said participating class members shall be paid a proportionate share of the net settlement sum. The net settlement sum represents the settlement sum less attorneys’ fees and costs, administration costs, an enhancement award and the LWDA payment.

The ruling said the settlement administrator shall calculate the individual class member settlement amount, the amount of the net settlement sum allocated to each participating class members.

The settlement provides for all class counsel’s attorneys’ fees and costs to be paid from the settlement sum. Class counsel will seek up to one-third of the settlement fund, that is, $1,866,666.67.

The settlement also provides that plaintiff shall seek an enhancement award of no more than $10,000. This award shall be deducted from the settlement sum.

Disputes regarding the implementation or interpretation of the settlement shall be submitted to the private mediator the parties previously worked with to settle their dispute. Settlement administration costs are awarded in the amount of $24,750.

No later than Sept. 28, the parties shall file a joint status report indicating (1) the number of class members who have cashed their settlement checks, (2) the amount of uncashed funds, (3) any issues the parties believe should be addressed, and (4) a proposed course of action for remedying such issues, if any, the ruling said.

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