Pacific Southwest Container is being accused in a lawsuit of not paying hourly employees for all of the hours they worked through such measures as under-reporting their hours, having them work through lunch without pay and failing to correctly calculate their pay, including overtime.
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 23 in Stanislaus Superior Court. The lawsuit names Pacific Southwest Container employee Erasmo Sanchez as the plaintiff but claims other hourly employees also were subject to the same conditions.
Sanchez is represented by the Southern California-based employment law firm of David Yeremian & Associates. The firm will seek to have the judge certify the litigation as a class-action lawsuit. That means the lawsuit would represent other hourly employees.
Modesto-based Pacific Southwest Container manufacturers paperboard packaging for a variety of industries. It operates two plants in Modesto, one in Visalia and one in Chatsworth in Southern California.
"We do not comment on pending litigation," said Blake Steward, Pacific Southwest Container's senior vice president for human resources.
David Yeremian said Sanchez remains employed with Pacific Southwest Container and earns more than $17 an hour. The lawsuit says Sanchez has worked as a shipping clerk and production floor worker.
The lawsuit alleges Pacific Southwest Container violated the California Labor Code, orders of the state's Industrial Welfare Commission and California's Business & Professions Code. It seeks financial damages and restitution going back four years as well as attorneys fees. (Four years is the legal limit for collecting these wages.)
Yeremian said it is too soon to say how many employees are involved and the dollar amount.
The allegations include:
▪ Sanchez clocked out for lunch but kept working because "he did not want to fall behind" and because of the "chronic understaffing and production requirements," according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims this happened about three times a week and management was aware of the practice. The lawsuit alleges a similar problem with rest breaks.
▪ Pacific Southwest did not pay employees or reimburse them for mileage when they had to drive to and from company facilities for work. (The Modesto facilities are about a couple of miles apart.) And workers were required to purchase work clothes, but Pacific Southwest deducted money from workers' paychecks to cover the cost.
▪ Workers were required to use their cell phones for calls and texts when they were working or off duty to receive work messages but were not reimbursed. Sanchez estimated about 70 percent of the calls and texts he received in a week were work-related, and his cell phone bill was more than $80 per month.