Pilot Accused of Manipulating Employee Time Records
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A group of more than 82,000 Pilot Corp. retail employees and restaurant workers were granted class status on June 16, accusing the travel center operator of altering time records to hide off-the-clock work.
According to legal website Law360, U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman of the Western District of Tennessee ruled that hourly cashiers, team leaders and shift leaders who worked at Pilot Corp.’s travel centers around the country from April 2011 to April 2014 qualify for conditional certification under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Pilot Corp. argued that restaurant and retail employees do not belong in the same class. However, Lipman applied a “lenient” analysis in regards to the default standard for employees seeking conditional certification in a class action. In addition, Lipman ruled the two groups are united by wage and hourly violations they allegedly suffered, the news outlet reported.
“Plaintiffs' affidavits reveal that the alleged wrongs they complained of were the same no matter the capacity in which they worked or the state in which they were employed," Lipman wrote. "In short, these plaintiffs are similarly situated."
Lipman also denied Pilot Corp.’s argument that granting conditional class certification would create an unmanageable class of more than 82,000 people, reasoning that not all employees will opt-in to the class-action suit, while others could be excluded by a later court ruling.
Pilot Corp. did get one victory in Lipman’s ruling, as she refused to include anyone in the class other than hourly cashiers, team leaders and shift leaders, stating the plaintiffs failed to show other employees were similarly affected, reported the news source.
The class certification dates back to a complaint filed by lead plaintiff Arvion Taylor, who in April 2014 filed a complaint stating that while working for a Subway restaurant at a Tennessee Pilot location, her manager made her work before and after her shift, as well as during her lunch break, with time sheets allegedly showing she worked fewer hours than she actually did.
The case is Taylor v. Pilot Corp. et al., case number 2:14-cv-02294, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
Knoxville-based Pilot Corp.’s Pilot Flying J operations has more than 680 travel centers in North America.