A federal jury in California found in favor of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit charging that Taco Bell underpaid its workers who skipped their meal breaks, in violation of California law, and awarded the class of around 134,000 workers a total of $495,913, according to a report in Law360.

However the jury did not find against Taco Bell with regard to other allegations, which, according to the lawsuit, included unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wages, unreimbursed business expenses, vested accrued vacation wages and other claims.

The jury found that the class of workers, led by former crew member Lisa Hardiman and former shift manager Sandrika Medlock, were only paid 30 minutes worth of wages when they skipped their 30-minute meal breaks instead of the hour’s worth of wages required by California law.

The lawsuit dates back to 2007 and was consolidated with other cases in 2009. The trial started on Feb. 22, 2016.

The plaintiffs also claimed that from 2003 to 2013, Taco Bell failed to provide meal breaks to employees before their fifth hour of work during shifts of longer than six hours, and that they only gave employees one 10-minute break for shifts lasting up to seven hours, instead of two breaks.

Both of those policies violate California law, according to Law360, and the jury found that Taco Bell did have those policies in place, according to the Yum! Brands Inc. subsidiary’s own employee handbook. 

However, it found that the evidence wasn’t sufficient to find in favor of the plaintiffs that employees who worked shifts longer than six hours actually weren’t given meals by the end of their fifth hour, or that employees who worked between six hours and seven hours weren’t given a second break.

The plaintiff’s lawyers and Taco Bell did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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