Bloomberg reported that a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California granted preliminary approval of a $4.5 million settlement between Walgreen Co. and 2,650 of its California employees. The lead plaintiff, Lucas Mejia, an hourly stocker at a Walgreen distribution center, filed the putative class action lawsuit on Nov. 6, 2018, against the defendant, Walgreen Co. in the Superior Court for the County of Yolo alleging violations of the California Labor Code. According to the complaint, the pharmacy store chain:
Allegedly Walgreen's unlawful employment practices included failing to pay non-exempt employees with all of the compensable time they had worked. For example, the plaintiffs claimed that Walgreens "rounded down employees' hours on their timecards, required employees to pass through security checks before and after their shift without compensating them for time worked, and failed to pay premium wages to employees who were denied legally required meal breaks."
On Jan. 18, 2019, Mejia amended his lawsuit to add a claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) based on Walgreens' alleged violations of the California Labor Code. According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, the Labor Code PAGA "authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations."
As proposed, the Settlement Agreement will release all claims asserted in this action by the settlement class, defined as "any current or former hourly non-exempt employees who worked at any of [d]efendants' California distribution centers at any time from November 6, 2014 to June 2, 2020."
The company agreed to pay up to $4.5 million "to create a common fund, from which payments will be made for:
Judge William B. Shubb scheduled a final fairness hearing on Monday, March 22, 2021, at the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse in Sacramento "to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate and should be approved by this court; to determine whether the settlement class's claims should be dismissed with prejudice and judgment entered upon final approval of the settlement; to determine whether final class certification is appropriate; and to consider class counsel's applications for attorney's fees, costs, and an incentive award to [the] plaintiff."