Anheuser-Busch InBev has been hit with a $5 million lawsuit by a pair of its employees who say the beer-brewing giant failed to pay its truck drivers for overtime hours and did not allow them to take meal and rest breaks.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday by drivers Charles Hill and Joe Correa in federal court in California, is a putative class action filed on behalf of other AB InBev drivers. The plaintiffs say they are still determining the potential size of the class, but it could reach 400 members based on the number of California drivers the company either currently employs or employed within the past four years.
Hill and Correa — who say they have worked for the company for more than 40 years combined — say they have "worked numerous weeks in excess of 40 hours" during their time with AB InBev and that the company has not paid them the minimum overtime rate of 1.5 times their regular pay for the extra hours they worked.
What's more, Hill and Correa say AB InBev did not allow them to take paid meal and rest breaks, despite the company having a written policy to allow such breaks.
The drivers say they are normally paid a flat daily rate, plus an additional 10 cents per case of alcoholic beverages that they deliver to retailers throughout California. The lawsuit argues that the company "used the piece-rate payment structure specifically to eliminate any payments due for rest breaks." In other words, they say drivers end up being discouraged from taking breaks because they are paid the same amount, based on the number of cases delivered, whether they take a break or not.
"As such," the lawsuit argued, "it was impossible to take a break and be paid for the time."
The plaintiffs are seeking at least $5 million in damages for the putative class action as well as additional individual damages and attorneys' fees.
When reached for comment, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said the company had not been served with the lawsuit. "We are very familiar with the requirements of wage and hour laws, and take all necessary steps to ensure we are in compliance. We care about the well-being of our employees and take these allegations seriously," the company said.
(Update: This article has been updated with a comment from AB InBev.)