Les Schwab Tires pays workers $16 million for missed breaks

To settle a class action lawsuit, the Les Schwab tire center chain last month agreed to pay about $2,500 each to roughly 3,700 current and former Oregon workers. The lawsuit alleged that the company routinely shorted workers on their lunch breaks. Oregon law requires that workers be given an uninterrupted meal break of at least 30 minutes for every six to eight hours worked.

The Oregon AFL-CIO joined the lawsuit in October 2017 with a 24-page friend-of-the-court brief, arguing that employers have a duty to ensure that workers take the minimal meal break required under the law.

“Les Schwab contends that if an employee works through the full lunch period, every day, Les Schwab can just reap the benefits of that work and has no obligation to pay the employee, unless the company ‘prevented’ the employee from taking a lunch break,” the labor federation said in the brief. “This position completely eliminates any duty of the employer to support its employees’ health and safety by ensuring they take the minimal meal break required under the law.”

The settlement totals $16 million, and includes just under $4 million in attorney fees and court costs.

In September, Les Schwab’s family owners sold the company to Meritage Group, a California investment firm.

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