Donning-doffing case denied class-action status

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Superior Court denied class action status to a lawsuit filed by former employees of Overhill Farms.

The lawsuit claimed employees were required to put on and remove protective clothing and wash their hands before and after working without pay, along with other violations of labor laws. Overhill Farms denied the allegations.

"We have stated from the outset that we believe these claims were completely without merit, and are pleased by the court's ruling," said James Rudis, chairman and chief executive officer of Overhill Farms. "This ruling vindicates our decision to vigorously oppose any attempt to exploit the unfortunate circumstances of our former employees to damage the company and its shareholders."

Overhill Farms fired the employees for using invalid Social Security numbers in connection with their employment, a fact that weighed on Judge David L. Minning’s ruling.

Judge Minning ruled that the plaintiffs could not adequately represent the interests of other employees, in part because they "lied to their employer" about certain facts. "This is a serious charge against their credibility," the judge ruled, which "raises serious doubts that they should stand in a position of fiduciary responsibility to the class members."

Judge Minning added that some sworn statements from plaintiffs "lack credibility," while other statements they made contradict the claims in the lawsuit. He ruled that "evidence demonstrates that this class does not meet certain requirements for certification" as a class action lawsuit.

The ruling is subject to appeal, and the plaintiffs can pursue their claims individually.

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