Airstream faces second labor lawsuit


By Jim Painter - For the Sidney Daily News



DAYTON – Payroll calculations of Airstream in Jackson Center is again being challenged in court. The action was filed the same day a settlement was reached in a separate case against the company last week.

On Jan. 31, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Dayton and calls for a collective and class action against the company for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Ohio law.

The lawsuit seeks alleged unpaid overtime wages since Jan. 31, 2016, liquidated damages in an amount equal to the unpaid overtime, attorney’s fees, costs, and any civil penalties. Court records note the plaintiffs are also requesting another award of 6 percent of the liquidated damages.

Attorneys Matthew Coffman and Daniel Bryant, of Columbus, who also represented former Airstream employee Sandra Funk and others in a class action settled on Jan. 31, filed the suit.

The new case is on behalf of former Airstream employee Mark Satterly and anyone eligible for a class action seeking proper overtime pay since Jan. 31, 2016. Satterly worked as an hourly employee at Airstream from February to the beginning of August 2016.

Coffman told the SDN, “Numerous Airstream associates have already joined the lawsuit. Contrary to the unlawful practice that Airstream has allegedly maintained, non-exempt hourly associates are entitled to be paid for their time spent working.”

He continued, “We believe that the newest lawsuit will likely affect at least as many employees as the prior lawsuit against Airstream that related to the failure to compensate associates at the proper overtime rate of pay.”

Airstream leader responds

The SDN submitted questions to Bob Wheeler, Airstream president, CEO, and senior vice president of operations. Through their attorney Vladimir Belo of Columbus, a prepared statement was their response.

It read, “The accurate compensation of our associates is paramount. We are a close-knit family with an outstanding workforce. We’re conducting an internal review to learn more about the complaint and whether it has any merit.”

Coffman said the alleged payment rules are a violation of the FLSA. He directed the SDN to his law firm’s website at https://mcoffmanlegal.com where he posted, in part:

“The complaint highlights Airstream’s alleged unlawful pay policy or practice of only compensating associates for their scheduled shifts despite associates being on-the-clock and working before and/or after shifts. Although Airstream keeps track of the actual time worked by associates, the complaint alleges that they fail to pay the associates for all such time because of their “pay to shift” policy that systematically reduces associates’ compensable hours worked in Airstream’s benefit. The associates who brought the lawsuit are already in possession of substantial documents and information that they believe demonstrate that this policy or practice has been maintained for a period in excess of the past three years.

“For example, Airstream associates clocked in and began working between six to 40 or more minutes early, but Airstream only paid the associates for their scheduled shift. Moreover, Airstream associates were also on-the-clock working after the end of their scheduled shift, but they were not paid for such time. Despite tracking the actual time worked by associates, Airstream allegedly failed to compensate them for all such time.”

Initial case settled Jan. 31

Regarding the initial lawsuit, on Jan. 31, a $117,053 settlement payment was approved to Sandra Funk of Sidney regarding her personal claims with another $21,338 to be evenly divided between 21 employees, including Funk.

Court records show the settlement was based on Federal Law Rule 68, which states Airstream (owned by Thor Industries) was not admitting guilt or liability in the claims, which was confirmed by attorneys.

On March 1, 2018, Sandra Funk, 44, 8262 Lochard Road, filed the suit seeking compensation for an alleged miscalculation of overtime pay; to allow all employees affected by the same pay method to join the class action; class action as a violation of the Ohio Prompt Pay Act (OPPA); violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with interference of her rights; and, for a violation of the FLSA for retaliation actions towards her.

Once initiated, former Airstream employee Mark Satterly requested the suit include current and former Airstream employees the choice of joining a class action for the overtime pay in question. The settlement will be paid in addition to payments already received by employees from the company.

By Jim Painter

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.