In this economy, many people are working hard to stretch their dollar as far as they can. For hourly workers, every dollar counts. An example of workers fighting for their right to hours worked appeared in a recent article in the Dec. 15 edition of the Allentown Morning Call.
A class action lawsuit was filed in Lehigh County Court on Dec. 9 by food service workers at St. Luke’s Hospital and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital. The complaint alleges that the food service company, Sodexo Inc., forced their food service employees at both hospitals to work when they were off the clock.
The suit was filed by two Sodexo employees on behalf of up to 80 current and former employees. According to the article, the suit says Sodexo demanded or permitted employees to start work early, work after hours and during lunch breaks without pay.
One example in the complaint states that the 2 employees routinely had to start their shifts 45 minutes before their scheduled start time. In an effort to discourage employees from recording their actual time worked, the complaint alleges the timekeeping system was programmed to “accept employee clock-ins no more than three to seven minutes before the start of the scheduled shift and clock-outs no more than three to seven minutes after the end of the scheduled shift.”
In the article, one employee said she makes $15.03 an hour to cook, bake, make desserts, prepare food trays, and clean dishes. She said workers prepares close to 400 meals a day. Although she works extra, she never gets paid overtime. It’s difficult to support her family as a single mother with health care premiums costing her around $350 a month.
The article states that Sodexo employs more than 1,000 workers in the Lehigh Valley, some of whom only earn a dollar over minimum wage. The workers are trying to unionize under the Service Employees International Union. Food service workers at Good Shepherd went on a one-day strike in October, along with food service workers at Sacred Heart and Lehigh Valley Hospital, complaining of low wages, poor benefits, and anti-union tactics.