Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 9:43 pm | Fair 70º


Local News


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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >