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Patricia Franco and Lilia Castro, On v. Ruiz Food Products

May 3, 2011

PATRICIA FRANCO AND LILIA CASTRO, ON
BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED INDIVIDUALS,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RUIZ FOOD PRODUCTS, INC., AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

Lesley E. Weaver, Esquire Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP 199 Fremont Street, 20th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105-2255 Phone: (415) 992-7282 Facsimile: (415) 489-7701 Email: lweaver@sfmslaw.com (Additional Counsel on Signature Page) Attorneys for Plaintiffs and the Proposed Class

JOINT STIPULATION AND ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

Consistent with the parties' discussions with Magistrate Judge Oberto at the Case Management Conference on March, 22, 2011, and pursuant to Local Rules 143 and 144, the parties hereby stipulate as follows.

WHEREAS:

1. On March 15, 2011, in advance of the Case Management Conference on March 22, 2011, the parties submitted their Joint Scheduling Report, attached to which Plaintiffs Lilia Castro and Patricia Franco (collectively, "Plaintiffs") submitted their Proposed Amended Complaint for their amendment as of right, which Defendant Ruiz, Inc. ("Defendant") did not oppose, and Plaintiffs stated at the Conference that Plaintiffs sought to meet and confer further with Defendant regarding same;

2. Magistrate Judge Oberto's Case Management Conference Order set the deadline to amend the pleadings for April 5, 2011;

3. Following the Case Management Conference, the parties met and conferred, and Plaintiffs sought additional time to investigate certain claims asserted in the initial complaint to determine whether additional amendment was appropriate;

4. Following this investigation, Plaintiffs have met and conferred with Defendant regarding the Proposed Amended Complaint, attached hereto as Exhibit A, and Defendant has no objection to Plaintiffs filing same;

THEREFORE, the parties jointly agree and stipulate:

A. Plaintiffs may file the attached Proposed Amended Complaint; and

B. Plaintiffs will promptly file the Amended Complaint upon entry of this Order.

Respectfully Submitted,

Date: May 3, 2011

IT IS SO ORDERED.

EXHIBIT A

Lesley E. Weaver, Esquire

Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP 199 Fremont Street, 20th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105-2255 Phone: (415) 992-7282 Facsimile: (415) 489-7701 Email: lweaver@sfmslaw.com

(Additional Counsel on Signature Page)

Attorneys for Plaintiffs and the Proposed Class

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA FRESNO DIVISION

PATRICIA FRANCO and LILIA CASTRO, on ) Case No. 1:10-CV-02354-AWI-SKO behalf of themselves and on behalf of all other ) similarly situated individuals, ) AMENDED COLLECTIVE CLASS Plaintiffs, v. LABOR STANDARDS ACT, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and AMENDED RULE 23 CLASS RUIZ FOOD PRODUCTS, INC., and ACTION COMPLAINT FOR DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.

VIOLATIONS OF CALIFORNIA LABOR CODE AND WAGE ORDERS, AND ACTION COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL FAIR CALIFORNIA BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE §§17200, et seq.) ) JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

Plaintiffs Patricia Franco and Lilia Castro (hereinafter "Plaintiffs"), on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated individuals, complain and allege as follows:

I. JURISDICTION & VENUE

1. This Court is vested with original jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and because they raise a federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

2. This Court is empowered with supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' pendant state law claims. 28 U.S.C. §1367.

3. Venue is proper in this federal judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) and (c), because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to these claims occurred within this judicial district, and because Defendants (as defined below) reside in this judicial district in that they regularly conduct business within this judicial district and thus are subject to personal jurisdiction within this judicial district.

II. INTRODUCTION

4. This is a class action against Ruiz Food Products, Inc. ( "Ruiz") and the individual Doe defendants (collectively, "Defendants") to challenge Ruiz's policy and practice of requiring its non-exempt employees to work substantial amounts of time "off-the-clock" and without pay, and of failing to provide non-exempt employees with the meal and rest periods to which they are entitled by law.

5. Plaintiffs and the members of the Class are production-line employees. Under Ruiz's wage compensation system, Ruiz does not pay Plaintiffs and Class members for all required pre- and post-production-line activities that are necessary and integral to their overall employment responsibilities, including, but not limited to: donning and doffing protective equipment and gear, cleaning and sanitizing that equipment, walking to their lockers and/or the production line after already performing compensable activities, walking to the wash stations and then to their lockers and/or supply rooms before the end of compensable time, working on knife maintenance equipment and waiting in line to receive required knives, supplies, tools and equipment on a daily basis.

6. The time that Ruiz requires its employees to work without compensation is substantial, and deprives Plaintiffs and the Class of many hours' worth of wages (both straight-time and overtime) per week. In addition, because Plaintiffs and the Class are required to perform numerous tasks, both at the beginning and the end of their meal and rest breaks, they are not provided with 30 minutes of off-duty time in which to eat their meals, nor, if they work in excess of 10 hours, are they provided with a second 30 minute break, or 10 minutes of off-duty time in which to rest, as required by California law.

8. As a result of all of these acts and omissions, Ruiz is liable for violations of the FLSA, California Labor Code, California Industrial Welfare Commission ("IWC") wage orders, and the California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Business and Professions Code §§ 17200 et. seq.

9. Plaintiffs seek full compensation, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, for all unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, denied meal and rest periods, and waiting time penalties. Plaintiffs also seek additional relief available under applicable law on behalf of themselves and the proposed California law Class for Ruiz's violations of the FLSA, California Labor Code and California IWC wage orders. Plaintiffs also seek declaratory and injunctive relief, including restitution. Finally, Plaintiffs seek reasonable attorneys' fees and costs under the FLSA, California Labor Code, California Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5, and/or other applicable law.

III. PARTIES

10. Plaintiffs Patricia Franco and Lilia Castro were formerly employed by Ruiz on the production line at Ruiz' Dinuba, California facility within the statutory time period in this case. Plaintiffs are residents of Tulare County, California.

11. Defendant Ruiz is a California corporation and, at all times relevant to this Complaint, has been a processor of various food products for human consumption at its Dinuba, California production facility.

12. The true names and capacities of Does 1-50, inclusive, whether individual, corporate, associate, or otherwise, are unknown to Plaintiffs, who therefore sue the Doe Defendants by fictitious names. Plaintiffs are informed, believe, and thereon allege that each of these fictitiously named Defendants are responsible in some manner for the complained of occurrences and Plaintiffs' and the Class members' damages as herein alleged. Plaintiffs will amend this Complaint to identify the Doe Defendants' true names and capacities when they have been ascertained.

13. At all relevant times, Ruiz has done business under the laws of California, has had places of business in California, including in this judicial district, and has employed Class members in this judicial district. Ruiz is a "person" as defined in California Labor Code §18 and California Business and Professions Code § 17201. Ruiz is also an "employer" as that term is used in the California Labor Code and the IWC's Orders regulating wages, hours and working conditions.

IV. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

14. The policies and practices of Ruiz, including failure to pay for all hours worked, the failure to pay overtime wages, denial of meal and rest periods, and failure to pay wages upon termination of employment, at all relevant times have been substantially similar for Plaintiffs and the members of the Class.

15. Pursuant to state and federal regulations and Ruiz's own internal policies and procedures, Plaintiffs and Class members are required to wear special personal protective equipment and gear ("PPE") for safety and sanitary reasons. PPE includes, inter alia, plastic aprons, cloth aprons, arm guards, gloves, mesh gloves, mesh aprons, hardhats, scabbards, hairnets, earplugs, frock coats, eye protection, and other protective equipment and coverings. The PPE is designed to protect the workers from injury and illness, and the food consuming public from illness generated by human biohazards. All of Ruiz's production-line employees are required to use PPE in the course of their work, and/or are exposed to biohazards and/or could infect food product with human generated biohazards.

16. At the beginning of each work day, Plaintiffs and Class members are required to line up to receive clean PPE and clothing for the day. This wait can be in excess of five minutes. Additionally, Plaintiffs and Class members are required to don substantial amounts of PPE, and sanitize their PPE prior to the start of paid time. As a result of the various unpaid work activities which must be performed prior to the start of paid time, employees regularly are forced to arrive at the plant well before the start of their shifts.

17. During their unpaid thirty minute meal breaks, Plaintiffs and Class members must clean their PPE, and search for an open hook on which to hang it. They must then remove their PPE and hang it before proceeding off of the processing floor. Prior to the conclusion of their thirty minute meal break, Plaintiffs and Class members must go to the supply room and wait in line to receive clean PPE, and return to their work stations many minutes before the line starts, in order to allow them sufficient time to re-don their PPE and be ready to process food products prior to the expiration of their thirty minute meal breaks. All of these activities are work activities. Ruiz does not compensate Plaintiffs and the Class members for the time it takes to perform them. Furthermore, as these are work activities, Ruiz never, in fact, provides Plaintiffs, or Class members, with a full thirty minute meal break free of work activities, nor a ten minute rest break free of work activities.

18. At the end of the day - and after being taken "off the clock" by Ruiz - Plaintiffs and the Class members must walk to wash stations to clean their hands and walk to their lockers. Despite the fact that these activities are compensable work and take a substantial amount of time to complete, Ruiz does not pay Plaintiffs and the Class members for this time.

19. Ruiz denies to Plaintiffs and the Class members the meal and rest periods to which they are entitled each day. Even when Plaintiffs and the Class members are allowed to take a meal or rest break, the multiple tasks they must perform both before and after their meal or rest break mean that they are not actually provided with duty-free breaks.

22. Ruiz's unlawful conduct has been (and is) widespread, repeated, and willful throughout its Dinuba, California facility. Ruiz knew or should have known that its policies and practices have been unlawful and unfair.

V. CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS

23. Plaintiffs bring this case as a class action on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated individuals. The Class that Plaintiffs seek to represent for Defendants' violations of California labor statutes is defined as follows:

All individuals who are currently employed, or formerly have been employed, as nonexempt production-line employees at the Ruiz food processing facility in Dinuba, California, at any time within four (4) years prior to the filing of the original complaint until resolution of this action.

24. The Class that Plaintiffs seek to represent for violations by Defendants' violations of the FLSA is defined as follows:

All individuals who are currently employed, or formerly have been employed, as nonexempt production-line employees at the Ruiz food processing facility in Dinuba, California, at any time within three (3) years prior to the filing of the original complaint until resolution of this action.

25. This action has been brought and may properly be maintained as a class action under both Fed.R.Civ.P. 216(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 because there is a well-defined community of interest in the litigation, the proposed class is easily ascertainable, and common questions predominate over any questions that may affect individual Class members. Common questions of fact and law include, but are not limited to, the following:

i. Whether Ruiz, through its policy of requiring its non-exempt production-line employees to perform substantial work off-the-clock, fails to pay Class members all of the wages they are owed, in violation of the California Labor Code and the FLSA;

ii. Whether Ruiz, through its policy of requiring its non-exempt production-line employees to perform substantial work off-the-clock, fails to pay Class members all of the overtime wages they are owed, in ...


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