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Santa Barbara County Employees File Class Action Lawsuit Against Vons

Complaint alleges stores falsified time cards, didn’t pay overtime or allow lunch breaks for hourly employees

Santa Barbara County employees have filed a class action lawsuit against Vons, alleging the grocer failed to pay overtime wages. One of the employees worked at the Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, shown here.
Santa Barbara County employees have filed a class action lawsuit against Vons, alleging the grocer failed to pay overtime wages. One of the employees worked at the Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, shown here.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

A class action lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of hourly Vons employees, alleging the grocery chain failed to pay overtime wages or allow employees to break for lunch, among other unfair business practices.

Santa Barbara law firm Anticouni & Associates filed the lawsuit Thursday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court against Safeway Inc., which owns Vons.

The complaint claims some Santa Barbara County Vons stores failed to pay minimum wage, didn’t keep proper payroll records, and didn’t pay wages in a timely manner after an employee resigned or was terminated.

Kathryn Zeitz, who has worked at the Vons in Carpinteria or at 3855 State St. in Santa Barbara since February 2014, and Trevor White, who worked at the 163 South Turnpike Road location in Goleta from February 2013 to November 2013, brought the lawsuit forward.

Anticouni & Associates estimates more than 500 other Vons employees might also be impacted and eligible for financial relief.

“Plaintiffs are informed and believe … that defendants engaged in a uniform policy and systematic scheme of wage abuse against their hourly employees,” the complaint states.

“This scheme involved … falsifying time cards to reflect that a meal period was taken by each employee and to reflect no overtime hours in a single shift. Plaintiffs and other class members were entitled to their regular wage and overtime compensation.”

According to California Labor Code, hourly employees are supposed to break and rest for at least 30 minutes during a shift that’s longer than five hours, the complaint says.

The lawsuit alleges employees weren’t getting those periods to rest but that management falsified time cards after the fact to reflect Vons was following regulations.

Vons employees were forced to work more than eight or 12 hours a day — and more than 40 hours a week — without getting overtime, the complaint alleges.

Anticouni & Associates sent a letter detailing the violations to the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency and Safeway Inc., with neither entity responding to report the allegations would be investigated.

“We do not comment on pending litigation, however, we are committed to complying with all federal and state wage and hour laws,” said Carlos Illingworth, a Vons spokesperson.

The class outlined in the lawsuit would include all current and former non-exempt hourly employees who worked for Vons in California during the last four years and up until a judge issues a ruling in the case.

In the complaint, employees are asking for adequate wages and for interest on top of any unpaid overtime compensation.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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