A Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) unit must face a Philadelphia worker’s lawsuit alleging the company failed to pay hourly employees overtime and cheated them on pay for shortened breaks.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter in Philadelphia today denied a request by Hyundai Rotem USA, a maker of railroad cars, that he throw out the complaint initially filed in February by assembly-line employee Olivia Drake.
She’s seeking class status on behalf of all workers that have been subjected to Hyundai’s allegedly unlawful practices during the past three years.
Buckwalter threw out a Pennsylvania state law minimum wage claim, while letting a federal Fair Labor Standards Act claim go forward. He rejected the company’s contention Drake had to first pursue arbitration under her union’s collective bargaining agreement.
“The union could decide for reasons completely unrelated to the merits of plaintiffs’ claims to deny the opportunity for arbitration,” the judge said. He called that procedure unconstitutional because it could force employees to waive a substantive statutory right.
The court hasn’t ruled on whether workers can sue as a group. Hyundai Rotem is a unit of Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co.
The case is Drake v. Hyundai Rotem USA, 13-cv-00868, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
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