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This case was filed as a “Collective Action” lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law guaranteeing minimum wage to employees, among other things. The lawsuit alleged that Swift did not pay Trainees at least minimum wage for all the time they worked in the training period of their employment with Swift. The training period typically lasted approximately 6 weeks. Swift denied Plaintiffs’ claims and maintained that it did not violate any law.
The lawsuit was originally filed by Pam Julian, a former Trainee of Swift. She is the “Named Plaintiff.” On August 30, 2017, the federal court presiding over the lawsuit granted a motion for “conditional certification,” which gave other individuals an opportunity to “join” the case as “opt-in plaintiffs” or “Collective Members” if they worked as Trainees for Swift at some time between January 6, 2014 through January 16, 2018, and timely submitted a “consent to join” form. Approximately 9,577 individuals submitted consent to join forms before the deadline.
Collective Member's consent to join forms designated the Plaintiffs’ attorneys, listed below, to litigate and resolve the case on the Collective Members behalf. The Plaintiffs’ attorneys thoroughly litigated the case for several years. On December 28, 2018, they won a “motion for summary judgment,” ruling that Trainees were entitled to be paid at least minimum wage for time logged as “sleeper berth” in excess of eight hours per day and that Swift was not compensating Trainees for this time. On December 27, 2019, the Court awarded $7,839,834 in damages to compensate the 9,577 opt-in plaintiffs for this unpaid time. The Court later scheduled a trial to occur in October 2020 to determine any additional amounts that might be owed, including additional unpaid time and “liquidated damages.”
Swift objected to these rulings and stated its intent to make an appeal to have them reversed.
On August 10, 2020, the Parties presented their competing arguments and evidence to an experienced mediator to attempt to resolve the lawsuit. After the mediation, the mediator made a “mediator’s proposal” to resolve the case for a total of $14,000,000, as further described below. The Parties accepted this proposal.
While the Parties continue to dispute whether Swift has violated the law and, if so, the amount that would be owed, the Parties also recognize that there are various legal disputes as to requirements for how Swift must pay its Trainees. The Parties also recognize the risks of an appeal, and the delays of further litigating the case through trial and appeal. The named Plaintiff and Plaintiffs’ attorneys believe, after a thorough evaluation of the law, evidence and uncertainties, that the Settlement is in the best for the collective of opt-in plaintiffs.
The court overseeing this case has approved the Settlement and ruled that it is a fair and reasonable resolution of a bona-fide dispute.
Notices were sent to Trainee truck drivers for Swift who worked at some point between January 6, 2014 through January 16, 2018, and timely submitted a “consent to join” form in the case of Julian, et al. v. Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC, et al., Case No. 2:16-CV-00576-ROS.
Swift has agreed to pay a total Settlement Amount of fourteen million dollars ($14,000,000) to resolve this lawsuit. The total Settlement Amount provides for the following: (1) individual Settlement Payments to the 9,577 Collective Members; (2) the costs of administering the Settlement and processing the Settlement Payments, which are $116,776; (3) attorneys’ fees of one-fourth of the total Settlement Amount ($3,500,000) and the attorneys’ out-of-pocket litigation costs of $308,153.88; and (4) a service payment to the representative Plaintiff, Pamela Julian, of $15,000, in recognition for the significant time, effort and risks she took in initiating and prosecuting the case.
For tax purposes, the Settlement Payments are allocated as 1/3 wages, 1/3 liquidated damages and penalties, and 1/3 interest (1099 INT reportable income). Legally-required employee tax withholdings and payroll taxes are deducted from the portion of each Settlement Payment allocated as W-2 income. Please note that no tax advice is being provided in connection with this Settlement. Collective Members will need to speak with an accountant or other tax professional about any tax implications of their Settlement check.
The Collective Members are represented by the following attorneys:
COTTRELL KONECKY LLP
2000 Powell Street, Suite 1400
Emeryville, California 94608
Telephone: (415) 421-7100
Facsimile: (415) 421-7105