No lunch break allowed, claim SDT Waste & Debris workers in class action

By Michelle Keahey | May 17, 2011


Several employees of a Louisiana waste removal company have filed a proposed class action claiming they were not paid for all hours worked and if they had complained about the treatment, they would be fired.

Claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Tanya Lackey, Dale Nicolini, James Bold, Robert Gay, Alfred Hamilton and John Smith and Larry Swan, individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals, filed suit against SDT Waste & Debris Services, Sidney D. Torres IV, Jason McDaniel and Henry Gonlag on May 6 in federal court in New Orleans.

The plaintiffs are all either former or current employees of STD employed as hoppers, mechanics, dispatchers or truck drivers working out of SDT's facility in Chalmette. According to the complaint, the employees worked five to six days per week and more than 40 hours per week.

Despite being unable to take time for eating a regular meal, the employees were instructed to deduct 30 minutes from each day's worked hours for an unpaid lunch period. The employees state that they were routinely advised that if they stopped working in order to eat lunch, they would be fired. The lawsuit states that some employees were terminated after they complained about the failure to be paid for all hours in which they worked. Other employees were instructed to operate the trucks in an unsafe condition in violation of state law.

The employees are claiming the defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying overtime due and for retaliating against employees who complained about not being paid.

The lawsuit is asking for an award of overtime pay for all putative collection action members, an award of liquidated damages, interest, attorney's fees and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Gerald J. Huffman, Jr. and Susan R. Laporte of Curry & Friend in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-01087

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