As reported by Law360 (April 23, 2021, 5:17 PM EDT) — with the help of Quintilone & Associates and teams of other lawyers, Bank of America has agreed to pay $11.5 million to over 25,000 tellers, personal bankers, and operations managers to resolve three proposed class actions alleging state and federal labor law violations stemming from unpaid business expenses, wages and off-the-clock work, the employees said in a filing in California federal court.
The Court granted the Motion for Preliminary approval on Thursday, May 25, 20201 and the employees asked the court to join together three separate cases against Bank of America, saying the agreement would avoid endless litigation. The employees alleged the bank made them work before and after shifts and during breaks without pay and failed to reimburse business expenses, in violation of California labor law.
“Here, the settlement represents approximately 20% of the realistic gross recovery for plaintiffs’ overtime, meal and rest break and unreimbursed business expenses claims, without any risks, costs and uncertainty of prolonged litigation,” the employees said in the motion.
The proposed payout would include $3.45 million in attorney fees and up to $100,000 in costs, plus awards of $10,000 for each of four named plaintiffs. The agreement also calls for $115,000 for payment under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, with three-quarters of that going to the state and the rest going to class members.
Without taking into account the length of time that proposed class members worked for the bank, each of them would get approximately $460 before deductions. The motion called this “an excellent result, when considering that plaintiffs could face difficulties to establish liability and prevail at certification and trial.”
The employees also asked the court to conditionally certify their class consisting of current and former Bank of America California tellers since October 2014, operations managers since March 2015 and personal bankers since March 2016. The Court held that conditional certification was warranted because the group is numerous enough and alleges common wage and hour issues, and because the plaintiffs have issues typical of the proposed members and are adequate representatives, the employees argued. The bank and employees reached the proposed settlement in December 2020, according to the filing.
The present case stems from a lawsuit Miguel Mendoza filed in California state court in March 2019 on behalf of himself and other operations managers. Bank of America removed the case to federal court that May.
Mendoza alleged that the bank made operations managers work five hours or more without required meal and rest breaks and failed to reimburse the employees for having to use personal cellphones for work. During breaks, the operations managers would often have to stay on premises and help bankers and tellers with transactions and respond to customer inquiries, without pay, Mendoza alleged.
The other two cases in the settlement involve similar claims. Andrea Harrison, represented by Quintilone & Associates and the Markham Law firm filed her suit against the bank in 2018, alleging that tellers had to arrive early to do opening procedures and boot up computers and programs before clocking in, then do similar tasks after clocking out. This unpaid pre-and post-shift work would take 30 to 40 minutes per day, she alleged.
Tellers also routinely had to work through meal and rest breaks, but the bank instructed them to record on timesheets that they took the breaks, Harrison alleged.
In the third suit, also represented by Quintilone & Associates filed in March 2020, personal bankers Kiarash Kaffishahsavar and Kimberly Jaco made similar allegations of having to do pre-and post-shift work and having to work through meal and rest breaks without pay. As in the Mendoza case, they also alleged that the bank failed to reimburse them for costs associated with having to take work calls on personal cellphones.
The Mendoza plaintiffs are represented by Stanley D. Saltzman Esq. and Tatiana G. Avakian Esq. of Marlin & Saltzman LLP. The Harrison and Kaffishahsavar plaintiffs are represented by Richard Edward Quintilone II Esq. and Jeffrey T. Green Esq. of Quintilone & Associates and David R. Markham Esq., Lisa Rose Brevard Esq., and Maggie K. Realin Esq. of the Markham Law Firm.
Bank of America is represented by Sylvia J. Kim Esq. and Matthew C. Kane Esq. of McGuireWoods LLP. The Mendoza case is Mendoza v. Bank of America Corporation, case number 3:19-cv-02491, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Harrison case is Harrison v. Bank of America, case number 3:19-cv-00316, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Kaffishahsavar case is Kaffishahsavar v. Bank of America, case number 4:20-cv-02119, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.