Saturday, September 28, 2013

R & H Wage Settlement

When things get ugly at a company (as in "we don't have the money to meet payroll," often linked to "we're going bankrupt") employees usually get screwed. So it's always good to see employees fight back ... and get something.

Attorneys for two former employees of Rhythm & Hues and the debtors for the bankrupt company have reached an agreement to settle potential class action claims over the 238 employees who were laid off from the company in February.

In a filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles on Friday, the proposed settlement calls for Thomas Capizzi and Anthony Barcelo to each receive $10,000 for their roles as class representatives, with the balance of $980,000 divided among the laid-off employees based on their final pay rates and termination dates.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs also will deduct one-third for attorney fees, plus court costs. The settlement is in response to claims that Rhythm & Hues violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires large companies to give employees at least two months’ advance notice of plant closings or mass layoffs. ...

Over the years I've been involved in crap like this, and it always ticks me off.

In 1989, I went down with the Filmation ship. The company abruptly closed its doors and I was laid off along with a couple hundred other people ... right before* the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act went into effect, so most of us got no extra pay that would have been due if the WARN had been the law of the land.

Since then, I've helped employees who haven't been paid weekly wages a number of times. The biggest shafting? One hundred-plus employees not getting paid by Imagi Animation Studios (Sherman Oaks) when the company couldn't make payroll.

Happily, the Animation Guild had a contract with Imagi and started rattling the company's cage. Even more happily, every employee was made whole before Imagi passed out of existence, but it was a close thing.

We live in mean times. If you find yourself working for a company that doesn't pay you for work performed, stop performing the work. Get up from your computer and walk away. And if the production manager or owner/operator (or whomever) hectors you about being a "team player" and "hanging in a little longer" until the money comes through, tell them as politely as you can: "Happy to do your work when the pay check has been delivered and cashed, but not before."

Let them know that you do charity work at your church/temple, not your workplace.

* Westinghouse shuttered Filmation on February 3, 1989, which left L'Oreal (the new owner) with the Filmation library only. This happened one day before a new law went into practice requiring companies to give employees 60 days notice before a mass termination.


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