Workers at West Michigan Meat Processing Facility Victorious in Lost Wages Claim

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Class Action Win Hinges on Company’s Policy

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Attorney Matthew L. Turner represents the class of laborers

These employees were onsite, on company time, yet weren’t being properly compensated,” says attorney Matthew Turner. “The company enjoyed a significant windfall as a result.

If your job requires you to wear protective equipment, you must be paid for the time you spend putting on and taking off your gear. According to a recent judgment from the U.S. district court in Kalamazoo, Michigan (Case 1:11-cv-00302-PLM), employers who fail to pay workers for that time may be in violation of federal wage and hour laws.

At the JBS Packerland plant in Plainwell, Michigan, company policy mandates that laborers who perform certain meat processing tasks wear protective clothing and equipment to avoid injury, and that they remove their gear before taking their lunch break. This process of “donning” and “doffing” takes upwards of ten minutes each time, a total of approximately 40 minutes per day, but because workers were not paid until after they donned their gear and their pay ended before they doffed it, that was time for which they were never paid.

“These employees were onsite, on company time, yet weren’t being properly compensated,” says Matthew Turner, an attorney at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., the Southfield, Michigan law firm representing the class of laborers harmed by JBS’s workplace policy. “The company enjoyed a significant windfall as a result.”

Turner and his colleagues recently succeeded in obtaining a judgment on behalf of seven plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit – Daniel Perez Lazo, Anna Maria Lopez Guzman, Jean Mbonicimpaye, John Novitsky, Tad Lee Bronkema, Jonathan Childress, and Elia Ntacobakimvuna. Other plaintiffs continue to await their day in court.

“These fine people expected to be paid a fair wage for an honest day’s work, yet their employer took advantage of them instead,” added Mr. Turner. “I applaud their courage in stepping forward to make things right for themselves and their families.”

Sommers Schwartz, P.C., a law firm located in Southfield, Michigan, represents individuals in Michigan and across the country who have been harmed as a result of unfair employment practices, medical errors, defective products, and other forms of negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Additional information about Sommers Schwartz can be found on its website:

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Matthew L. Turner, Esq.
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