October 20, 2021

Volume XI, Number 293

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October 19, 2021

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October 18, 2021

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Printer Jam: Employee Sues Over COVID-19 Expenses and Wage Violations

This week’s spotlight on COVID-19 related workplace litigation involves a persistent trend: a plaintiff bringing a class action alleging that she and her fellow employees were not properly reimbursed for necessary business expenses. The plaintiff further alleges that she and her fellow employees were not provided with lawful meal breaks, lawful rest breaks, accurate itemized wage statements, and payment of wages upon termination. This complaint is yet another chapter in the same old story—a plaintiff combining COVID-19 related allegations with unrelated wage and hour allegations.

In Gonzalez v. Fisher Printing, Inc., the plaintiff brought a class action on behalf of herself and all non-exempt employees. With regard to COVID-19, the plaintiff alleges the defendant pressured, encouraged, and required employees to purchase masks to prevent transmission from COVID-19 and to perform their jobs, but failed to reimburse employees for the expense. According to the plaintiff, by not reimbursing employees for this purported business expense, the defendant violated the California Labor Code. 

Unrelated to the COVID-19 claims, again on behalf of a putative class of non-exempt employees, the plaintiff also brings a host of California state law wage and hour violations, including meal break and rest break violations, inaccurate wage statements, and failure to pay employee wages upon termination.

Over the last year, we have seen how COVID-19 claims can expose employers to potential liability for all kinds of other workplace employment issues. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to change, employers should be engaging counsel to review their employment policies and practices to avoid similar jams.

Iqra Mushtaq​, a summer associate with Barnes & Thornburg LLP contributed to this article.

© 2021 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 148
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About this Author

Cristina Alma McNeiley Litigation Attorney Barnes & Thornburg Chicago, IL
Associate

Attentive and detail-oriented, Cristina Alma McNeiley is a bilingual litigator who devotes herself to thoroughly researching case law, statutes, and relevant information to provide the most targeted representation – regardless of the dispute at hand – for her clients.

Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Cristina honed her skills as a research assistant at Chicago-Kent College of Law, where she assisted in research related to International Law and Women’s citizenship and edited articles that published by the American Journal of Legal History. She is equally skilled in drafting a...

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Peter J. Wozniak Barnes Thornburg Chicago  Labor Employment
Partner

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...

312-214-2113
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