SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - PetSmart has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wage class action lawsuit filed by groomers who claimed they were denied paid meal and rest breaks and were forced to perform uncompensated tasks.
PetSmart is to pay a maximum of $10 million, with attorneys receiving $3.3 million of the total settlement amount; Alanna Harrison and Alisa Valdez receiving $10,000 each; and Danette M. Moore and Latresa Myers receiving $5,000 each, according to court documents filed Jan. 31.
Claims were made by 16,400 current and former animal groomers and other workers across 132 PetSmart stores.
On May 23, 2012, the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court of the County of Alameda, Calif., and then removed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California at San Jose on July 9, 2012.
The plaintiffs claimed PetSmart violated state labor laws, including failure to compensate workers for the cost of grooming tools they bought, wrongful termination and provision of inaccurate wage statements.
The plaintiffs "were regularly required to perform nonproductive work such as stocking, cashiering, cleaning the grooming salon and prospecting for grooming customers, during which time they were prevented from earning piece-rate compensation," according to the complaint.
PetSmart's company practice provides if a customer does not love how their pet looks after being groomed, the customer gets their money back or does not have to pay.
The plaintiffs claimed any work hours worked by groomers for customers who did not like how their pets looked were uncompensated.
PetSmart had a company-wide policy of allowing meal breaks only for workers who worked between six and eight hours, meaning that employees might be denied breaks mandated by state law for working five consecutive hours.
The plaintiffs claimed they often were forced to work through rest periods since the company did not compensate them for the time they took while on break.
The company's policy stated that employees who worked between four and six hours were entitled to a paid 15-minute break, and those working between six and eight hours were entitled to a second paid 15-minute break, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs were being represented by Graham Stephen Paul Hollis and Marta Manus of GrahamHollis APC.
PetSmart was being represented by Sophia Behnia, Michelle B. Heverly, Erica H. Kelley, Nathalie A. Le Ngoc and Elisa Nadeau of Littler Mendelson PC.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California at San Jose case number: 5:12-cv-03577