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The Wine Group Settles Class Action Suit Filed by Non Exempt Workers

$6.8 million class-action settlement for unpaid wages, missed breaks
by Kereana Todorov
November 01, 2018

A Northern California judge has approved a $6.8 million class-action settlement against The Wine Group over unpaid wages, missed breaks and other alleged labor rules violations, according to court records.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Iona Petrou on Tuesday ruled on an agreement tentatively reached against The Wine Group, the second largest wine company in the United States with about 1,000 employees, according to Wine Business Monthly. The number of employees included in the settlement is unclear.

The $6.8 million settlement sets aside about $2.3 million to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, according to court filings. It also includes more than $104,600 in penalties and other costs, according to court documents.

The court cited a number of factors in his decision to approve the settlement agreement, including the relative strength of the plaintiffs’ case. The employees eligible for class-action settlement include current and former hourly, non-exempt employees starting from August 2011 through March 2018 when Petrou approved the preliminary class-action settlement, according to court filings.

Former employee Eliazar Gonzalez filed the original complaint in August 2015. Gonzalez alleged a series of labor violations against his former employer, including failure to properly pay overtime and minimum wages and to provide meal and rest breaks, according to court filings. The lawsuit also alleged the company failed to pay wages on time and maintain requisite paperwork, according to court records.

Gonzalez worked for The Wine Group as an hourly, non-exempt employee from June 2006 to July 2014. A second plaintiff named Linda Pasillas joined the lawsuit in 2017. She worked for the Livermore-based company from August 2006 to July 2014.

The Wine Group denied the allegations in court filings. A company representative on Wednesday could not be reached to comment on the case.

Petrou issued a series of rulings against The Wine Group before the final ruling. The judge earlier this year approved a preliminary settlement for $6.5 million. It was adjusted in July to $6.8 million to account for another 40,000 workweek hours in lost wages, according to court records.

The Wine Group produces about 53 million cases of wine annually, according to Wine Business Monthly.

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