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Log In / Register | Jun 25, 2018

Jury Awards Nearly $500,000 to Taco Bell Workers for Unpaid Meal Breaks

IRVINE, California — A federal jury last week ruled in favor of 134,419 Taco Bell restaurant workers, finding the fast-food chain had underpaid them for meal breaks, a violation of California law. The "special verdict" filed on March 9, 2016, awarded the employees $495,913, stating that Taco Bell had a standardized company-wide policy that underpaid premiums to staff for meal periods.

The class action lawsuit, led by former crew member Lisa Hardiman and former shift manager Sandrika Medlock, began in 2007 and was consolidated with other lawsuits in 2009. The jury trial finally commenced on Monday, February 22, 2016.

Not only did the jury find that Taco Bell only paid workers for 30-minutes time of "unworked 30-minute meal breaks" instead of one-hour wages as required by law for the period 2003 to 2007, they also determined that from 2003 to 2013, Taco Bell failed to provide meal breaks to employees before their fifth hour of work during shifts of longer than six hours. The company also only gave staff one 10-minute break for shifts lasting up to seven hours, instead of two breaks.

The jury did not find sufficient evidence in the employees' favor on certain allegations such as unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wages, unreimbursed business expenses, vested accrued vacation wages and other claims. Court records show Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone set a hearing for Wednesday, March 16, to determine penalties.

According to BigClassAction.com, a $2.5 million settlement was awarded in September 2013 to Taco Bell employees who filed an unpaid overtime class action against the chain. The lawsuit alleged the company inaccurately categorized assistant general managers as supervisors in order to deny them overtime pay. Taco Bell claimed that the assistant managers were exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Taco Bell Corporation, founded in 1962, is a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE:YUM), which also encompasses KFC and Pizza Hut. Taco Bell has approximately 6,200 locations, 20 percent company-owned. At the end of 2014, Taco Bell had system-wide sales of $8.2 billion.

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Taco Bell Jury Verdict.pdf54.06 KB
Taco Bell Order 3.8.16.pdf262.04 KB
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