Plaintiff Vasquez, a mechanic working for DCH Honda of Oxnard and DCH Saturn of Oxnard and client of Strauss Law Group, has brought suit against his employer alleging the failure to pay overtime and to provide 30-minute, off-duty meal periods and adequate paycheck stubs. The suit may affect the rights of all employees of DCH Honda of Oxnard. (If your store failed to provide you with paid overtime, meal periods, or adequate paycheck stubs, contact Strauss Law Group.)
Case Filed: August 22, 2006
Affects: Employees From August 22, 2002 to Present
September 2009 – The case has been determined by the judge to only involve DCH Honda of Oxnard. DCH employees at other locations must bring their own lawsuits to recover any owed amounts for overtime, meal periods, deficient paycheck stubs, and penalties.
August 5, 2008 – The discovery referee has issued a proposed Recommendation authorizing a procedure for Plaintiff to obtain the names and addresses of the mechanics and technicians at the DCH dealerships in California who received their paychecks from DCH CA Team Member Services LLC. This should be all of the mechanics and technicians at every DCH dealership in California. Those who do not want their names released to Plaintiff’s attorneys will have to “opt out” by sending in a postcard to a neutral third party. If the court abides by the Recommendation, Defendants will have to comply with its terms.
July 14, 2008 – The parties have taken a discovery dispute to a discovery referee. The referee has heard Plaintiff’s motion to conduct discovery on all DCH dealerships in California and Plaintiff’s motion for a court order authorizing a procedure for Plaintiff to obtain the names and addresses of the mechanics and technicians at the DCH dealerships in California. A decision is expected in the next few days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is affected by the class action lawsuit?
The actual makeup of the class of workers affected by this lawsuit can only be determined after the court certifies the class. Until then, all putative (potential) class members are hourly employees (including those on “tech commissions”) of DCH Honda of Oxnard from August 22, 2002 to the present who have not received 30-minute, off-duty meal periods, overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay, or proper paycheck stubs.
What is a 30-minute, off-duty meal period?
For lack of better words, a 30-minute, off-duty meal period is a lunch break where you don’t have to do any work and are free to leave to do whatever you want.
I could not leave during my lunch break; does that mean I did not receive a 30-minute, off-duty meal period?
Yes; if you have to stay at work during your lunch break, you did not receive a 30-minute, off-duty meal period. However, the law is in flux right now regarding the employer’s obligation to provide or enforce meal period compliance. It is questionable whether a court can certify a class action based on meal period violations suffered by the class members. This does not affect the overtime and paycheck stub claims in this lawsuit.
Was I entitled to a 30-minute, off-duty meal period?
Every hourly (or tech-commissioned) employee of DCH Honda of Oxnard who is affected by this lawsuit was entitled to a 30-minute, off-duty meal period each time they worked over five hours in one shift. If they worked over ten hours in one shift, they were entitled to a second 30-minute, off-duty meal period.
Employees who work six hours or less in a day may waive their right to a 30-minute, off-duty meal period, so long as they sign a written document acknowledging the waiver.
Okay, I did not receive all of my meal periods while working for DCH Honda of Oxnard, so am I entitled to anything?
By law, you are entitled to ONE HOUR OF PAY for each missed meal period going back three (or maybe even four) years from August 22, 2006 and through the present.
What was wrong with my paycheck stubs?
By law, the paycheck stubs your employer provides you must contain certain information. This includes the name and address of your employer; how many hours you worked at straight-time, overtime, and doubletime; your straight-time, overtime, and doubletime rates of pay; all deductions made from your earnings during each pay period; and the beginning and ending dates of the applicable pay period. It is alleged that DCH CA Team Member Services, LLC did not put all of this information on your paycheck stubs.
If my paycheck stubs from DCH CA Team Member Services LLC did not have all of this information, am I entitled to anything?
If any of the required information is not present on your paycheck stubs, then, if you suffered “damage” as a result, your employer owes you penalties. Those penalties are $50 for the first defective paycheck stub and $100 for each additional defective paycheck stub. The cap per employee is $4,000. The penalties are for defective paycheck stubs going back one year from the date of the filing of the lawsuit, August 22, 2006, through the present.
Besides reimbursement for missed meal periods and the penalties for defective paycheck stubs, am I entitled to anything else in this lawsuit?
Perhaps. This lawsuit also alleges that DCH Honda of Oxnard failed to pay its employees all overtime owed. Some may have received overtime at less than 1.5 times their regular rate of pay, which is against California law.
This lawsuit has also alleged that DCH Honda of Oxnard must pay assorted penalties to the putative class members. This allegation is part of Plaintiff’s request for penalties under Labor Code section 203. Under this statute, each former employee whose employer wilfully failed to pay him or her for missed meal periods may be entitled to 30 days of pay in addition to the reimbursement for missed meal periods.
The class may also be entitled to an award of interest at the judicial interest rate of 10% and attorney fees.
So, if I did not receive meal periods, overtime, or adequate paycheck stubs, what can I do about it?
Unless you opt out of this lawsuit when the opportunity to do so arises, this lawsuit will attempt to reclaim what DCH Honda of Oxnard may owe you for missed meal periods, overtime, and defective paycheck stubs. The Plaintiff’s attorneys will attempt to notify you of your ability to opt out.
Do I need to do anything if I want to stay in this lawsuit?
If you wish to remain in this lawsuit, you do not need to do anything at this point. However, Strauss Law Group needs to conduct an investigation to determine how many employees of may have suffered missed meal periods and defective paycheck stubs, so we encourage you to contact us. If enough employees help our investigation, we should be able to certify the class.
I worked for the DCH Auto Group outside of California. Am I part of this lawsuit?
Unfortunately, no; only California-based employees are part of this lawsuit. Furthermore, the laws of the state you are in may differ from California law, which is set forth above, so you may want to consult an employment attorney familiar with your own state’s law.
New: DCH failed to pay me on a designated pay day. Do I have a new claim against DCH?
The short answer is: yes and no. Technically, if an employer has designated a specific day to be “pay day,” the employer has to pay wages for the preceding pay period on that day. The failure to do so is a violation of Labor Code section 210. The first violation will result in a penalty of $50 per each affected employee. Any subsequent violation will cost the employer $100 per employee, plus 25% of the amount that was supposed to be paid in the late paycheck.
Even though an employer that violates this section may have to pay penalties, those penalties typically cannot be collected by individual employees in a civil lawsuit. The only way to collect these penalties is through an action brought by the California Labor Commissioner, who can sue the employer on behalf of the State. The penalties, therefore, go to the State, not the individual employees.
There is one way, however, for individual employees to collect these penalties – a Private Attorneys General Action (PAGA) against their employer to collect civil penalties for Labor Code violations. Even then, 75% of the penalties recovered would go to the State, and the rest to the employees and their attorneys.