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Nancy Gray Nov. 9, 2018

The City of Los Angeles is forking over a ton of dough to trash collectors, after a dispute over workday napping. In August, the city agreed to settle a $26 million suit over the city’s prohibition against trash truck drivers taking naps during their breaks.

Accordingly to the Los Angeles Times, the City Council imposed the ban on snoozing out of fear that television news crews or members of the public, armed with cell phone cameras, would capture sleeping trash collectors taking a siesta in a garbage truck during business hours. The rules also limited drivers from eating out in groups along their collection routes. The drivers claimed that the new rules amounted to unlawful prohibitions on meals and breaks. Each driver is expected to receive about $15,000 in back wages, while attorneys will share $8.7 million in legal fees.

City Councilman Paul Krekorian told the Times that if the City had not settled, they would likely have faced more than $40 million in damages.

The Los Angeles garbage settlement may stink for LA’s taxpayers, but it provides a cautionary tale for employers in regard to placing sufficient emphasis California labor and employment law compliance. Here, where the City was more concerned about its image—e.g. how it would look to members of the public when they saw trash collectors sleeping in trucks, or dining in local restaurants—than it was about compliance with state and federal employment rules. In the end, the stench of non-compliance was more than the City bargained for, and the taxpayers will pay the price.

When your California business needs advice on labor and employment matters, you can turn to Gray & Associates. Attorney Nancy Gray represents California businesses and individuals in all aspects of labor and employment law, including resolving hourly wage disputes, developing policies and best practices for human resources, and addressing potential labor and employment claims. Put a committed, knowledgeable labor and employment attorney to work for your business today. Call Attorney Gray at (310) 452-1211 or visit Gray & Associates online for a free consultation.