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Former Fuyao worker seeks class-action status in suit

A former Fuyao Glass America employee is suing the company on behalf of herself and other similarly situated people, seeking class-action status for what the lawsuit alleges are unpaid wages and overtime.

The lawsuit was filed by Julia Staggs in federal court in Dayton. Staggs worked at Fuyao, which employs about 2,000 people in Moraine, from September to December 2016, according to the suit.

RELATED: Former Fuyao exec sues over termination; Fuyao calls suit ‘meritless’

Staggs charges that she worked overtime at Fuyao without being paid a time-and-a-half wages for that overtime work. She contends also that she and others were not completely relieved of duties for meal breaks and more.

Bob DeRose, a Columbus attorney who represents Staggs, said discovery in the legal case hasn’t started, so he couldn’t say with precision how much Fuyao owes his client.

But he argues that automatic deduction from payroll for lunch breaks — whether or not employees take the breaks — is a violation. He said Fuyao deducts for a half-hour break from employee pay, although some employees work through lunch or they don’t take the entire 30 minutes as an uninterrupted break from work.

“They’re not paying for all the hours worked,” DeRose said. “We are maintaining this is a company-wide policy,”

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year, the suit claims, Fuyao “promised” to pay Staggs and about 100 other employees time-and-one-half wages for all hours worked that weekend, as an enticement to get those employees to work extra hours over the weekend.

RELATED: World watches as Fuyao pursues historic U.S. investment in Dayton area

“Defendant (Fuyao) has failed to pay plaintiff and approximately 100 other similarly situated employees time and one half of their regular rates of pay for all hours they worked,” the suit charges. Instead, employees received $50 gift cards, the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status for Staggs and all current and former hourly Fuyao production employees. The class is in the hundreds, potentially, DeRose said.

He declined to say how Staggs left the company. She is employed elsewhere, he said.

A spokeswoman for Fuyao declined to comment. Staggs is represented by a Columbus firm, Barkan Meizlish Handelman Goodin DeRose Wentz, LLP

Staff Writer Mark Gokavi contributed to this story.

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