February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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February 03, 2023

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February 02, 2023

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COVID-19 Class Action Litigation Heats Up Over Temperature Checks

This week’s spotlight is on two familiar trends among the COVID-19 related workplace complaints summarized: Plaintiffs alleging they were not compensated for time spent related to COVID-19 safety preparation, and the pairing of unrelated workplace class action allegations with COVID-19 claims. 

This week’s update ncludes one such case where the plaintiff brings a class action related to allegedly unpaid time spent during COVID-19 temperature screenings, and also alleges a plethora of other unrelated class-wide wage and hour allegations. The allegations in this case demonstrate the importance of employers ensuring not only that employees are properly compensated, but also that the compensation plans and policies are effectively communicated and consistently administered. 

In Jauregui, et al. v. Cytec Engineered Materials, Inc., et al., the plaintiff brought a class action on behalf of all non-exempt employees in the state of California, against a chemical manufacturer and certain related entities. The plaintiff seeks relief on behalf of the putative class for various wage and hour violations of the California Labor Code. In particular, the plaintiff alleges non-exempt employees were required to perform work-related tasks off the clock, including waiting in line to go through the defendant’s security and waiting in line to be screened for COVID-19 through mandatory temperature checks. Allegedly, these “off the clock” tasks also included donning and doffing uniforms and other protective gear unrelated to COVID-19, such as steel toed boots, fire retardant pants and shirts, hard hats, safety goggles, masks, face shields, aprons, ear plugs, and gloves. Because these tasks were uncompensated, the plaintiff claims that the defendant failed to pay both minimum and overtime wages due, and thus failed to provide accurate wage statements. Additionally, unrelated to the COVID-19 claims, the plaintiff alleges violations of the California Labor Code for failure to provide meal and rest breaks, as well as for failure to reimburse for required expenses. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the country, employer temperature checks have become commonplace. As we have previously observed, for the foreseeable future we anticipate more litigation pertaining to an employer’s safety-related response to COVID-19

Because plaintiffs continue to bring additional unrelated wage and hour claims alongside COVID-19 allegations, the financial risks to employers are increased. Employers would do well to review their compensation and timekeeping policies to be sure they are in compliance. When in doubt, seek guidance from your labor and employment attorney. Contributors to the COVID-19 Related Workplace Litigation Tracker will continue to present on the trends we are seeing in our monthly webinar, with the next one scheduled for Nov. 4. We will continue to track these trends as they unfold, and will continue to update the tracker each week. As always, stay tuned

© 2023 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 304

About this Author

Peter J. Wozniak Barnes Thornburg Chicago  Labor Employment

Pete Wozniak is a vigorous advocate who strives to help his clients navigate issues that can be fraught with challenges as painlessly and efficiently as possible. He is a candid and personable counselor, offering his clients direct advice by leveraging his deep experience performing a broad range of outcome critical functions for complex labor and employment matters.

Pete represents clients across a number of industries, including transportation and logistics, restaurants, retail, manufacturing, and temporary staffing. Handling a number of high profile matters, he identifies the...

Mark Wallin, Attorney, BT, Chicago, Labor Employment
Of Counsel

In order to provide the best counsel, Mark Wallin believes it is his role to understand his clients’ business needs so he can help them determine what resolution will provide the most benefit. His keen ability to understand his clients’ practical concerns allows him to advise on the best path to successfully resolve issues – whether through traditional litigation or negotiated resolution.

In the course of his practice, Mark has focused on providing the highest-level of service to his clients and building long-term relationships. Specifically, he defends employers in a wide range of...