DCH wage theft action
December 19, 2017 – Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kenneth R. Freeman indicated from the bench today that he will grant final approval to the settlement agreement reached in the firm’s second wage theft class action against DCH Auto Group and its parent entity Lithia Motors, Inc., the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S. The class consists of clerical and other employees working for the car dealership chain in the State of California, who will each share in a $6.5 million common fund to compensate them for unpaid wages. This is the second settlement the firm has concluded on behalf of DCH employees; the first, for just over $4 million dollars on behalf of a class of approximately 400 auto mechanics, was given final approval in May of this year. An order and final judgment (no one objected to the settlement) is expected soon.
UPDATE – January 5, 2018 – The court entered today its order granting final approval of this class settlement. The court also entered a $6,500,000 judgment consistent with the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement.
June 21, 2017 – Firm partner Nicholas Carlin announced today that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kenneth R. Freeman has conditionally granted the firm’s motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement reached in the firm’s second wage theft class action against DCH Auto Group and its parent entity Lithia Motors, Inc., the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S. The court's ruling allows the settlement of $6.5 million for a class of clerical and other employees to proceed to class notice pending a further order, expected shortly, setting a calendar of events leading to a hearing on final approval of the settlement. Judge Freeman set the final approval hearing for October 24th. This is the second settlement the firm has concluded on behalf of DCH employees; the first, for just over $4 million dollars on behalf of a class of approximately 400 auto mechanics, was given final approval last month.
May 18, 2017 – Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Jones today granted the firm’s request for final approval of a wage and hour class action settlement for a class of 434 auto mechanics against DCH Auto Group and its parent entity Lithia Motors, Inc., the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S. The settlement followed years of litigation and months of exhaustive mediation before a retired state court judge. The total monetary recovery for the class exceeded $4 million. Led by firm partners Nicholas Carlin and Randy Erlewine, the firm’s case against DCH Auto Group arose out of DCH’s labor practices in the State of California, and included allegations of the company’s repeated failure to provide statutorily-mandated breaks, falsifying of time records, failure to pay minimum wage, and failure to pay all earned wages. The firm’s case against DCH for non-mechanic employees who number in the thousands remains pending. For more information on the settlement and claims process, visit the claims administrator’s website by clicking here.
February 24, 2017 – Firm partner Nicholas Carlin announced today that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones granted the firm's motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement reached in the firm's wage theft class action against DCH Auto Group and its parent entity Lithia Motors, Inc., the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S. The court's ruling found that the settlement of over $4 million or about $10,000 per class member – a result of years of litigation and months of exhaustive mediation – was reasonable. The Court also granted conditional class certification for the class of approximately 400 California based auto mechanics, and appointed the firm class counsel.
UPDATE – March 9, 2017 – The court entered its order granting preliminary approval of this settlement today. The class administrator has begun the process of giving notice to the class. For more information about the settlement, click here.
January 11, 2017 – Firm partner Randy Erlewine today prevailed upon a state court judge to compel DCH Auto Group and its related entities to disclose employee information in the firm’s ongoing wage theft class action against them. In a carefully considered opinion, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer sided with the firm’s clients, a putative class of approximately 2,000 of the auto dealership chain’s current and former clerical and other non-mechanic employees, ruling that the dealership chain must supplement discovery responses and provide employee contact information following an opt-out opportunity. Judge Feuer also rejected the argument that, after a stay in discovery was vacated, objections to further discovery responses were warranted because of the pendency of other actions filed against it in the interim.
January 3, 2017 – In his capacity as co-lead counsel, firm partner Nicholas Carlin today filed a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement the firm concluded last year on behalf of a class of approximately 400 California-based auto mechanics with DCH Auto Group and its related corporate entities and parent, Lithia Motors, Inc. (the eighth largest automotive retailer in the U.S.), in its wage theft case against them. The settlement agreement comes after several months of intensive mediation with a well-respected retired California state court judge, and provides for a total monetary recovery of over $4 million, or about $10,000 per class member. The California Judicial Council has appointed Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones to preside over coordinated proceedings in the matter. A hearing on the firm’s motion before Judge Jones is pending.
August 29, 2016 – Firm Partners Nick Carlin and Randy Erlewine today filed a class action complaint for wage theft and related labor code violations against Lithia Motors, Inc., the owner of DCH Auto Group, on behalf of a group on non-technician employees for wage and hour violations under California law. The complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that DCH failed to provide meal and rest breaks to its employees, failed to pay overtime, and failed to provide proper wage statements. The Complaint further alleges that DCH knowingly committed fraud and conversion by falsifying time records to show that employees had taken meal breaks when in fact they had not, and seeks recovery of punitive damages. The case represents individuals employed at the dealerships in hourly, non-exempt positions, including office workers and service writers. The firm recently settled another case against DCH on behalf of a group of approximately 400 technicians (mechanics) for over $4 million; court approval of that settlement is pending.
August 25, 2016 – Firm partner Nicholas A. Carlin announced today, by Notice of Settlement filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, that DCH Auto Group and its parent company, Lithia Motors, Inc., have agreed to a class wide settlement of all wage and hour claims against them by current and former auto mechanic employees of their California DCH dealerships. The agreement acknowledges that previous payments made to some employees in the amount of $435,600 was a result of the litigation, and provides for payment of an additional $3.6 million to the class, bringing the total value of the litigation to the employees to over $4 million. As there are over 400 class members, this is an average of just under $10,000 per class member. The settlement amount is inclusive of attorneys’ fees, costs and class representative service awards. While court approval is pending, Mr. Carlin is expected to serve as co-lead counsel.
August 6, 2015 – Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias today considered the petition for coordination filed by the firm on behalf of client Candace Holzer in her case against auto dealership giant DCH/Lithia Motors for wage theft under California statutory law. Currently pending are seven separate court cases filed by different employees against one or another of the various DCH entities and dealerships, in addition to a growing number of private individual arbitrations, for similar wage and hour violations. In a proceeding that lasted most of the morning, Judge Elias agreed with the firm that its follow-on case for employee Ryan Dale (who says DCH/Lithia coerced him and others into signing “settlement” agreements over these claims without the benefit of counsel and in violation of law) should be deemed an “included action” in any coordination. She retained jurisdiction over all such cases, stayed proceedings in them, and allowed the parties to commence a mediation of all claims before one mediator. Judge Elias set a deadline of March of next year to conclude that mediation. A court order is pending.
June 30, 2015 – The firm has filed a second lawsuit against DCH Auto Group (now owned by Lithia Motors, one of the largest chains of car dealerships in the nation) for claims arising from DCH’s labor practices in the State of California, where it owns and operates over a dozen car dealerships. In a complaint filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court, auto mechanic Ryan Dale accuses DCH of fraud and unfair competition, among other things, in connection with DCH’s practice of calling employees into “settlement” meetings with management and coercing those employees to sign away their wage claims for pennies on the dollar, in violation of law. These “settlement” meetings were apparently in response to allegations which continue to accumulate and are now pending in six separate lawsuits in three different California Superior Courts against DCH alleging systemic and persistent wage and hour law violations. Employees’ claims include failure to provide statutorily-mandated breaks (and falsifying time records to cover them up), failure to pay minimum wages, and failure to pay all earned wages. The firm recently sought to have those lawsuits coordinated by one judge; the California Judicial Council will hear the firm’s application to do so in early August.
June 12, 2015 – The firm applied today to the State of California's Judicial Council to coordinate several PAGA complaints against DCH Auto Group (USA) in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Six suits are pending in Southern California by current and former employees against the auto sales giant and its affiliated dealerships alleging numerous and persistent violations of the California labor code, including denying employees meal and rest breaks, failing to pay for overtime work, failing to pay minimum wages, failing to reimburse employees for out-of-pocket costs, and falsifying employees’ time records to cover it up. Coordination of the cases expands and consolidates the potential number of dealerships included in issue as well as expands and consolidates the categories of employees covered by the claims to include clerical and office workers, service writers, auto mechanics and technicians, and sales people.
March 12, 2015 – Firm partner Nick Carlin succeeded today in overcoming multiple objections to moving forward with client Candace Holzer’s wage theft case against DCH Auto Group, one of the largest auto dealerships in the nation, a case brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act and seeking broad compensatory relief. Siding with Ms. Holzer, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson rejected DCH’s attempt to compel arbitration of Ms. Holzer’s wage and hour claims on behalf of herself and all other non-exempt employees throughout the State of California; Judge Johnson also refused to grant a stay of Ms. Holzer’s case, as requested by DCH on multiple grounds, including the existence of pending arbitration proceedings by others on their own individual wage theft claims. The court’s order is pending.
October 14, 2014 – Firm partner Nicholas Carlin filed an amended complaint today in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Candace Holzer, a former employee of DCH Auto Group (one of the largest auto dealerships in the nation - recently acquired by Lithia Motors [NYSE:LAD]), seeking relief under the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) for wage and hour violations. The complaint alleges, among other things, that DCH failed to allow its employees to take meal and rest breaks, and falsified time records to show that employees clocked out for lunch when in fact they were still working. The complaint seeks recovery on behalf of Ms. Holzer and all other non-exempt employees of DCH in all of its auto dealerships in California. Any current or former employee with information about such potential labor code violations is encouraged to contact the firm. PE&G has launched a website as a part of its investigation of California car dealerships affiliated with DCH Auto Group for possible systematic labor code violations.
The DCH case is a wage and hour claim filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against one of the largest auto dealerships in the nation. The firm represents client Candace Holzer, a former employee, who alleges that DCH falsified time records to deny employees pay for their missed lunch breaks.