Overview of the 3M Class Action Overtime Lawsuit

Barbara Lueders, a former Chemical Processor at the 3M Cordova Plant, initiated this Class Action on behalf of all hourly employees who engaged in certain "work-related activities," but were not paid for that time. Nine (9) of her former co-workers were eventually added as Class Representatives so that a broad spectrum of the hourly employees from various departments was represented. The class consisted of all current and former 3M Cordova non-exempt, hourly employees who worked at the Cordova, Illinois 3M facility at any time from December 1, 1997 to November 23, 2009.

There were 3 "work-related activities" at issue:

  • The law requires employers to pay employees for the time it takes to change into and out of uniforms and other protective equipment if the employer or the nature of the work requires uniforms to be donned or doffed on the premises. The lawsuit alleged that employees at 3M Cordova were required to wear specially treated uniforms (Nomex), but that employees were not compensated for the time it takes to put on or to change out of their uniforms and/or shower/wash up at the end of their scheduled shift.
  • The law requires employers to pay workers for the time spent, after changing into required protective clothing, and walking from the locker room to the work station (and back again at the end of shift before changing out of uniforms). The lawsuit alleged that 3M Cordova employees were not paid for this "walk" time.
  • Finally, many 3M Cordova employees were required to report to their work stations prior to the official/scheduled start of their shift to conduct a proper "shift relief" (12-hour shift employees) or engage in other pre-shift work activities. The lawsuit alleged that 3M employees were not properly paid for participating in shift relief.

3M has not and does not admit that its pay practices violated any wage and hour law. However, after many months of litigation and many more months of protracted mediation and settlement conferences, 3M and the Class Representatives reached an agreement to settle all claims.

THE SETTLEMENT

The details of the settlement and the basis for the findings made as to approval of the settlement can be found in the Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement. By approving the settlement, the court did not express any opinion regarding the merits of the claims or defenses. Nothing contained in these documents should be construed as suggesting the court's view as to which side might have prevailed had this matter proceeded to trial.

In brief summary, the basic terms of the Agreement are as follows:

  • 3M paid into a Settlement Fund a total of $4.95 million dollars plus interest at the rate of 2.5% annually commencing on November 30, 2009 until the date of disbursement.
  • All administrative costs and expenses were paid from the Settlement Fund.
  • Class Counsel was paid from the Settlement Fund.
  • A total of $105,000.00 of the Settlement Fund was distributed between the ten Class Representatives as an additional payment (over and above their Settlement Award as a Class Member) for their services in assisting Class Counsel and providing a general release of all claims to 3M.
  • $400,000 of the Settlement Fund were used to establish a scholarship with the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, which will provide up to $2,500.00 per year to qualified applicants for traditional post-secondary school academic pursuits and up to $1,000.00 per year to qualified applicants for nontraditional, post-secondary educational activities or for secondary or pre-secondary school educational purposes.
  • Settlement Awards from the remainder of the funds (after attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses and the scholarship fund have been accounted for) were distributed to Class Members who did not opt out based on one of two formulas.
  • There were 2 subclasses to receive Settlement Awards: 1) Class Members who worked at any time from December 7, 1997 to December 6, 2002; and 2) Class Members who worked at any time from December 7, 2002 to June 7, 2009. Employees who worked for some time during both these periods received only the award that resulted in the greater sum.
  • The Settlement Awards were calculated based on each individual employee's payroll records. For the 2002 to present Class Members, we knew each shift the employee actually worked (i.e., excluding vacation, sick, or personal days taken) and what his/her rate of pay was for that shift. Class Members were paid for 14.5 minutes per 12-hour shift worked from December 6, 2002 to June 7, 2009 and for 4.16 minutes per 8-hour shift worked for that same time period at their then overtime rate of pay. For the 1997-2002 Class Members, we only knew how many pay periods each employee worked during those years. Class Members were paid $5.00 per pay period worked between December 6, 1997 and December 7, 2002.
  • All Class Members who received a Settlement Award provided a release of all claims for back wages based on the state law claims raised in the lawsuit and under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").
  • A more thorough summary of the settlement terms can be found in the Notice of Settlement to Class.

The Settlement Agreement is a public document and is available by contacting the Clerk of the District Court for the Central District of Illinois.