Poop in a Bucket; Proposed Settlement Submitted in Paramount Pictures Fair Wages Case

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Photo Credit: FLICKR/CC/LOREN JAVIER


Paramount Pictures offered $700,000 to settle a case with disgruntled employees. Four parking production assistants (PPA’s) filed suit against Paramount under three separate statutes. The case is about fair wages but it’s getting publicity for the poor working conditions alleged by the plaintiffs.

The case is about fair wages but it’s getting publicity for the poor working conditions alleged by the plaintiffs. The involved workers were not allowed to leave their assigned spot unless filming was underway. This apparently left the PPA’s in a bind when nature called. They say they were forced to relieve themselves in buckets and bottles kept in their cars.

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The lawsuit alleges that Paramount cheated the employees out of overtime compensation guaranteed by law. The PPA’s worked on a flat shift-fee basis ranging between $140 – $160 a day. The PPA’s did not agree to work on an hourly basis.

Paramount assigned PPA’s 12-hour shifts as needed per production schedules. PPA’s had to work at least 4 hours to be eligible for half-shift, or 6-hour pay. Similarly, PPA’s had to work at least 8 hours to get the full-shift or 12-hour pay. This model works out great for PPA’s if they consistently work 40 hours a week but less than 12-hours a day. But that’s not what happened here.

The plaintiffs allege that they were required to work between 60 – 100 hours a week without any overtime pay. They take it further by accusing Paramount of doctoring time-sheets to reflect a perverted calculation of time worked and overtime paid rendered. Plaintiffs were apparently required to leave payment information blank on legally required wage verification forms.

The plaintiff’s filed a motion for final approval of the proposed settlement Friday, September 8, 2017.

FLSA protects workers from unfair pay practices. 

FLSA, or The Fair Labor Standards Act, establishes minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for more than 135 million American workers. Employees under FLSA are entitled to 1.5 times their normal hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours a week.

It’s important to note that not all employees are protected by this law. Further, employees are only entitled to overtime pay under FLSA after they work more than 40 hours in a work week. If you work 4 extra hours one day but your weekly work hours are still at or below 40 hours you don’t get overtime. It’s simple.

The PPA’s qualified for overtime pay because they worked 60 – 100 hours a week, not because they worked one really long day.

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Litigation will move forward if the judge doesn’t approve the settlement.

The settlement has to be approved by a judge before it can be finalized. At a fairness hearing on September 19, the Judge will determine if the proposed settlement is, you guessed it, fair. If he signs the order, the settlement will be final and the lawsuit will go away. If he doesn’t, the case is still open and both parties go back to court.

The plaintiffs and Paramount will most likely go back to mediation if the settlement is denied. Most civil cases settle to avoid high litigation costs and unexpected jury awards. As crazy as it sounds, Paramount could save money by settling for $700,000 or more.

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