Panera Employees Seeking Unpaid Wages and Expenses in New Class Action

On Monday, drug makers scored a big victory in multidistrict litigation that accused the drug makers of failing to warn patients that taking certain Type 2 diabetes drugs they produced could lead to pancreatic cancer. A California federal judge granted summary judgment in the drugmakers’ favor, holding that if the companies had proposed a label that had warned patients about the potential pancreatic disease risks, the FDA would have rejected those proposals.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia noted that the “evidence establishes the FDA has reviewed the risk specific to plaintiffs’ claims and, after considering the totality of available scientific data, concluded a warning or other reference to that risk is unsubstantiated.” Judge Battaglia also held that the FDA’s finding on the matter preempts state law failure-to-warn claims.
On Tuesday, Panera LLC employees filed a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California alleging that Panera failed to reimburse employee travel expenses, failed to allow meal periods, and avoided paying overtime by altering company records. The potential class could include as many as 5,000 California employees (working at Panera from November 2011 to the present) seeking damages for unpaid wages and expenses.

The lead plaintiff is a current baker for Panera and she alleges that at least once a week her workload was so heavy that she was unable to take a 30-minute meal period during her shift. A once-a-week meal period violation per employee (at $15/hour) would lead to more than $15 million in unpaid wages. Each employee is also estimating that he or she has 300 miles of unreimbursed travel per quarter to get to mandatory quarterly meetings. This would equal approximately $13.2 million.The complaint also alleges that Panera had a companywide policy that the mandatory meetings would not be recorded on days that would trigger overtime. Allegedly if an employee had already worked six or more hours in a day in which he or she attended a company meeting, Panera would record the employee’s meeting attendance as though it were on a different day so as not to trigger daily overtime.

For more information about meal periods, overtime, and reimbursement of employee expenses contact the Orange County employment attorneys at Ford & Diulio PC (714) 384-5540.The multidistrict litigation, which was combined in August 2013, targets a class of Type 2 diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics. In early 2013, researchers suggested that use of these drugs may lead to an increase of pancreatitis and precancerous cells. However, in a February 2014 report, the FDA found no concrete evidence that the drugs are connected to the pancreas problems. In his summary judgment order,

The drugs include Janumet and Januvia, produced by Merck; Byetta, developed by Amylin and sold in collaboration with Eli Lilly; and Victoza, made by Novo Nordisk.

For legal assistance related to personal injury or product liability, contact Ford & Diulio PC at 714-384-5540 or email us.