By: Michael Lauzon
October 17, 2013
An Ohio automotive injection molder faces a lawsuit launched by two employees who allege workers are owed wages for time taken by mandatory meetings. The molder denies the allegations but has begun to audit its payroll practices.
Precision Automotive Plastics and Autoplas in Bellevue held pre-shift meetings for press operators at the plants but did not count the time served in the 20-minute meetings as part of their work shift, according to the lawsuit. Defendant in the case is Windsor Mold USA Inc., a subsidiary of Windsor Mold Group of Windsor, Ontario.
Plaintiffs Sonia Filby and Amy Edwards allege workers are owed proper recognition for the meetings held for three years leading up to their suit launched July 22. The time taken for pre-shift meetings was not counted in calculating their wages, they allege. If a worker put in a 40-hour work week, for example, the meeting times should be added to the work time at an overtime rate, they argue.
Operators at the non-unionized plants earn between $10 and $13 per hour, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. About 200 employees work at each of the molding plants. Theoretically, a worker who attended 100 minutes of meetings a week in addition to putting in 40 hours of shift work could hope for overtime compensation of about $2,800 or more over three years.
Filby and Edwards and their lawyers want to have the lawsuit certified for class action. Leslie O. Murray, a principal in Sandusky, Ohio, law firm Murray & Murray Co. LPA, said in an email correspondence that "many employees and former employees" have said they want to join a class action suit. She said she expected a conditional class certification motion would be heard in court sometime in spring 2014.
Windsor Mold USA answered the complaint on Sept. 24. It denied employees are instructed not to include the 20-minute meetings on their sign-in sheets recording time worked. The company also denies a class action would be appropriate.
"Employees have always been paid for their attendance at such meetings," stated Colin Dodd, vice president of Windsor Mold Group in an email.
"Apart from these allegations, in accordance with our corporate due diligence procedures we have initiated a full review and compliance audit of all of our payroll practices in Ohio," Dodd added. "If it is determined in the course of such review that there have been any irregularities, we certainly intend to remedy those in full compliance with the law."
Leslie Murray said the alleged compensation scheme violates federal and Ohio laws.
The meetings were mandatory and workers who were late were subject to disciplinary action, court records allege. The meetings were held to discuss safety, production, work assignments and similar issues.
The Bellevue plants are part of Windsor Mold Group's automotive component molding division, which also runs injection molding plants in Pulaski, Tenn.; Windsor and Amherstburg, Ontario; and Querétaro, Mexico, according to the firm's web site. In total, the plants' presses have clamp forces of up to 3,000 tons and employ a range of molding technologies, including multi-shot and rotary molding, and metallizing. The Mexican plant at 160,000 square feet is the molding division's largest, followed by Autoplas at 134,500 square feet.
Windsor Mold Group's tooling division operates two tool shops in Windsor and one in Pharr, Texas. It also has strategic partners in tooling in South America, Europe, Australia, and in Asia, where it also has strategic injection molding.