By Gary Haber, firstname.lastname@example.org 5:58 p.m. EST December 23, 2015
Route drivers at Utz Quality Foods have filed a federal lawsuit against the Hanover-based snack food maker alleging the company owes them overtime pay.
The lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, alleges that the people who deliver Utz products to supermarkets and other retailers and stock them on store shelves are entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act to be paid time and a half when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Utz said Wednesday it is aware of the lawsuit. The company doesn't comment on pending litigation, said George Neiderer, the company's vice president of human resources.
Utz, in a Nov. 16 court filing, denied that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. It said that the route drivers' job responsibilities exempt them from the act's overtime requirement.
An issue in the case is whether these employees, called route sales persons, are outside salesperson exempt from overtime, as Utz says, or delivery people who are entitled to overtime, as the plaintiffs say. Some of the employees worked as many as 70 hours a week but weren't paid for more than 40 hours, said Anthony Lazzaro, a Cleveland-based attorney for plaintiffs Jason Swiger and Julio Cruz.
"This is a very difficult and labor-intensive job and they made a very modest salary," Lazzaro said.
Swiger, according to the complaint, worked for Utz as a route sales person in Ohio from 2010 to 2013. Cruz has worked for Utz in Pennsylvania since 2000, the complaint said.
As many as 1,900 current and former Utz employees could be entitled to join the lawsuit, Lazzaro said. About 140 have opted to join so far, he said. Route sales persons who work for Utz, or who have worked for the company in the past three years, have been notified they have the option of joining the suit, Lazzaro said.
Swiger and Cruz filed the lawsuit Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court in Ohio. The case was subsequently transferred to U.S. District Court in Harrisburg because Utz is headquartered in this area. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III is presiding over the case.
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