Tough Turkey: Worker Wants OT for Thanksgiving, Not Gift Cards

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By Alex Ebert

Collect your gift card at security.

That’s the only option a Dayton, Ohio-area worker was given when she asked for the time-and-a-half pay her employer promised for work during a Thanksgiving weekend, according to a federal lawsuit ( Staggs v. Fuyao Glass America, Inc. , S.D. Ohio, No. 3:17-cv-00191, complaint filed 6/2/17 ).

“It’s strange in that it’s illegal to pay someone in gift cards in this way, and it’s strange because you’d think a sophisticated employer would know that,” Robert DeRose, attorney for Julia Staggs, told Bloomberg BNA. DeRose is a senior partner with Columbus, Ohio-based Barkan Meizlish LLP.

Fuyao Glass America Inc. violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio laws by failing to pay overtime to about 100 employees who worked during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend, the lawsuit alleges. Prior to the holiday, hundreds of employees were also improperly docked for breaks never taken and they weren’t compensated for unused vacation time, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks class status for all affected employees at the auto-glass manufacturer’s 2,000-employee plant in Morain, Ohio.

The alleged gift card maneuver is what drove Staggs, a production line worker making $12-an-hour, to quit and sue.

“Plaintiff, by agreeing to work over her Thanksgiving holiday weekend, relied on Defendant’s promise to pay her a premium rate of pay,” the complaint says. Instead, she and about 100 other workers were offered “only a $50.00 gift card for their 8-plus hour shift,” it says.

A Fuyao spokesperson said the company will review the complaint but would not comment further.

Fuyao Glass America is a subsidiary of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, an international manufacturer of automotive glass. The 166-acre Ohio plant, which makes glass for several auto manufacturers, including GM, Ford, Honda, and Toyota, opened in 2016.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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