Sandoval-Osegura v. Harvey Pallets Management Group, LLC

COMPLAINT against defendant Harvey Pallets Management Group, LLC with receipt number 0865-6997043, in the amount of $400 Jury Demand, filed by HAMILTON SANDOVAL-OSEGURA.

Eastern District of Missouri, moed-4:2019-cv-00096

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Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 1 of 15 PageID #: 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI EASTERN DIVISION HAMILTON SANDOVAL-OSEGURA, § Civil Action No. 19-0096 Individually and on behalf of all others § similarly situated § § JURY TRIAL DEMANDED Plaintiff, § § COLLECTIVE ACTION v. § PURSUANT TO 29 U.S.C. §216(b) § HARVEY PALLETS MANAGEMENT § GROUP, LLC, § CLASS ACTION PURSUANT § TO FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(3) Defendant. § ORIGINAL COLLECTIVE/CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT Plaintiff Hamilton Sandoval-Osegura ("Plaintiff" or "Sandoval-Osegura") brings this action individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (hereinafter "Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members") who worked for Harvey Pallets Management Group, LLC (hereinafter "Defendant" or "Harvey Pallets"), at any time during the relevant statutes of limitations through the final disposition of this matter seeking all available relief, including compensation, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees, and costs, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq., and pursuant to the Missouri Act, MO. REV. STAT. §§ 290.500, et seq. Plaintiff's FLSA claims are asserted as a collective action under Section 16(b) of the FLSA while his Missouri state-law claims are asserted as a class action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) ("Rule 23"). I. OVERVIEW 1. This is a collective action to recover unpaid minimum wage, overtime wages and liquidated damages brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and a class action pursuant to the laws of the State of Missouri. Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 2 of 15 PageID #: 2 2. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are those similarly situated persons who have worked for Harvey Pallets at any time during the relevant statutes of limitations through the final disposition of this matter, were paid a piece rate, and have not been paid for all hours worked, minimum wage, or the correct amount of overtime in violation of state and federal law. 3. Specifically, Harvey Pallets has enforced a uniform company-wide policy wherein it improperly required (and continues to require) its hourly employees—Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members—to perform work off-the-clock and without pay. 4. In addition, Harvey Pallets paid (and pays) Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' a piece rate for completing discrete tasks, but failed to pay Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members any overtime compensation although Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members regularly worked over forty hours each workweek. 5. Harvey Pallets also docked Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' weekly wages during any workweeks they missed a day of work due to sickness (or for any other reason) by half. 6. Harvey Pallet's illegal company-wide policies have caused Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to have hours worked that were not compensated, to have overtime hours that are not compensated at a rate of time and one half their regular rates of pay, and has also caused their wages to fall below the federal minimum wage during some or all workweeks. 7. Although Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members routinely worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members have not been paid overtime of at least one and one-half their regular rates for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek, not have they been paid minimum wage for all hours worked. 8. Harvey Pallets knowingly and deliberately failed to compensate Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members for all hours worked, at the mandated minimum wage, and the proper amount of overtime each workweek on a routine and regular basis during the relevant time period. Original Collective/Class Action Complaint Page 2 Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 3 of 15 PageID #: 3 9. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members did not and currently do not perform work that meets the definition of exempt work under the FLSA or the state law of Missouri. 10. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members seek to recover all unpaid minimum wages, overtime, liquidated damages, and other damages owed under the FLSA as a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and to recover all damages owed under their Missouri state-law claims as a class action pursuant to Rule 23. 11. Plaintiff prays that all similarly situated workers (Putative Class Members) be notified of the pendency of this action to apprise them of their rights and provide them an opportunity to opt- in to this lawsuit. 12. Plaintiff also prays that the Rule 23 class is certified as defined herein, and that Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura designated herein be named as Class Representative for the Missouri Class. II. THE PARTIES 13. Plaintiff Hamilton Sandoval-Osegura ("Sandoval-Osegura") was employed by Harvey Pallets within the relevant time periods. Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura did not receive minimum wages or the proper overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek. 1 14. The FLSA Collective Members are those current and former piece-rate workers who were employed by Harvey Pallets at any time from January 24, 2016 through the final disposition of this matter, and have been subjected to the same illegal pay system under which Plaintiff Sandoval- Osegura worked and was paid. 1 The written consent of Hamilton Sandoval-Osegura is hereby attached as Exhibit "A." Original Collective/Class Action Complaint Page 3 Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 4 of 15 PageID #: 4 15. The Missouri Act Class Members are those current and former piece-rate workers who were employed by Harvey Pallets in the State of Missouri at any time from January 24, 2017 through the final disposition of this matter, and have been subjected to the same illegal pay system under which Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura worked and was paid. 16. Defendant Harvey Pallets Management Group, LLC ("Harvey Pallets" or "Defendant") is a foreign limited liability company, licensed to and doing business in Missouri, and may be served with process through its registered agent: Sean Packo, 2198 Chapin Industrial Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63114. III. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 17. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as this is an action arising under 29 U.S.C. §§ 201–19. 18. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the additional state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. 19. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Harvey Pallets because the cause of action arose within this District and Division as a result of Harvey Pallets' conduct within this District and Division. 20. Venue is proper in the Eastern District of Missouri because this is a judicial district where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. 21. Specifically, Harvey Pallets has maintained a working presence throughout the State of Missouri, and Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura worked for Harvey Pallets in St. Louis, Missouri, all of which are located within this District and Division. 22. Venue is proper in this this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Original Collective/Class Action Complaint Page 4 Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 5 of 15 PageID #: 5 IV. ADDITIONAL FACTS 23. Harvey Pallets provides wooden shipping pallets to its clients across the United States and claims to have "more than two billion pallets in circulation at any given time in the United States." 2 24. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' job duties consisted of removing wooden pallets from a conveyor belt, stacking them, and performing any necessary repairs on the pallets if they were damaged. 25. Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura was employed by Harvey Pallets as a pallet repairer in St. Louis, Missouri from approximately October 2017 to July 2018. 26. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are non-exempt employees paid a piece- rate—that is, they were paid a set rate for each pallet on which they performed work. 27. Specifically, Plaintiff was paid a rate of approximately $0.40 per pallet. 28. However, Harvey Pallets impermissibly reduced the weekly pay of any employee who missed work for any reason by half. See 29 C.F.R. § 778.307. 29. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' duties did not (and currently do not) include managerial responsibilities or the exercise of independent discretion or judgment. 30. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members did not have the authority or discretion to vary or change their proscribed job duties. 31. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members did not have the authority to bind or represent the company financially. 32. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members did not (and currently do not) have the authority to hire or fire other employees. 2 http://harveypallets.com/wp/?page_id=60 Original Collective/Class Action Complaint Page 5 Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 6 of 15 PageID #: 6 33. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were not (and currently are not) responsible for making decisions regarding salary, pay, or other administrative matters. 34. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' duties did not (and currently do not) concern work directly related to the management or general business operation of Harvey Pallets and/or its customers. 35. Rather, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were blue-collar factory workers. 36. In addition to their duties as stackers, Plaintiff and the Putative Class were required to remain at Harvey Pallet's facility up to an hour each day after their shifts had ended in order to clean Harvey Pallets' warehouse. 37. Harvey Pallets did not compensate Plaintiff and the Putative Class for these cleaning activities. 38. Plaintiff Sandoval-Osegura worked an average of forty-five (45) hours per week, but did not receive: (1) the federal minimum wage in some or all workweeks, (2) compensation for all hours worked, or (3) overtime compensation at the required rate of time-and-one-half of his regular rate of pay for all hours worked over forty (40) each week. 39. Harvey Pallets has employed other individuals who perform(ed) the same or similar job duties under the same pay provisions as Plaintiff. 40. Harvey Pallets applied its illegal pay practices despite clear and controlling law that states that non-exempt employees paid by the piece—Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members—are entitled to receive overtime compensation at one and one half times their regular rates of pay for all hours worked over forty (40) in a single workweek. See 29 C.F.R. § 778.111. 41. Harvey Pallets is aware of its obligation to pay for all hours worked, minimum wage for all hours worked, and the proper amount of overtime for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) each week, but has failed to do so. Original Collective/Class Action Complaint Page 6 Case: 4:19-cv-00096-AGF Doc. #: 1 Filed: 01/24/19 Page: 7 of 15 PageID #: 7 42. Because Harvey Pallets did not pay Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members for all hours worked, minimum wage for all hours worked, and time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a workweek, Harvey Pallets' pay policies and practices violate the FLSA. 43. Because Harvey Pallets did not pay Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members for all hours they worked on behalf of Harvey Pallets, Harvey Pallets' pay policies and practices also violate Missouri state law. V. CAUSES OF ACTION COUNT ONE (Collective Action Alleging FLSA Violations) A. FLSA COVERAGE 44. All previous paragraphs are incorporated as though fully set forth herein. 45. The FLSA Collective is defined as: ALL INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY HARVEY PALLETS MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC, AND WERE PAID BY THE PIECE AT ANY TIME FROM JANUARY 24, 2016 THROUGH THE FINAL DISPOSI