Another Class Action Suit for GT’s Kombucha

gtsA former employee of Millenium Products Inc., which owns category-leader GT’s Kombucha, has filed a class action complaint against the company, alleging various forms of unjust treatment to employees and the violation of several labor codes.

The plaintiff, Celso Godinez, worked for the company for approximately six months, according to G.T. Dave, the founder of GT’s Kombucha, which is based in Los Angeles. Godinez filed the suit on May 14 in the Superior Court of California in the County of Los Angeles and represents himself and others similarly situated at any time four years prior to the filing. While the court has yet to determine the exact figure, the plaintiff has stated that GT’s employed or has employed more than 50 people during this time period.

Another employee, Alma Mateos, who was employed with the company for approximately 30 days, Dave said, filed a suit against Millenium Products in September 2013 that includes similar allegations.

Both Godinez and Mateos no longer work with the company, Dave said, and have not worked with the company for more than one year.

The Godinez complaint alleges the following:

  • The company failed to consistently pay employees for all hours worked.

  • Employees regularly worked more than eight hours per day and/or 40 hours per week and did not receive time and one-half pay. They did not receive twice their regular rate of pay for working more than 12 hours in any one day or for working more than eight hours on any seventh day of work in a work week.

  • The company regularly required employees to work shifts of more than five hours without providing uninterrupted meal periods of at least 30 minutes, and shifts of more than 10 hours without providing a second meal period of the same duration.

  • The company did not allow employees to leave the premises. The Mateos case alleged that the company locked workers in a warehouse where they were “virtually placed under guard.”

  • Employees did not receive premium pay (i.e. an hour of wages at an employee’s hourly rate of pay for each meal period not provided or deficiently provided).

  • The company did not provide employees with paid rest breaks of at least 10 minutes per four hours of work or with premium pay for rest breaks not provided or deficiently provided.

  • The company consistently failed to provide employees with timely, accurate and itemized wage statements in writing, which are required by California wage-and-hour laws.

  • The company consistently failed to pay all wages owed to employees at the time of their termination or within 72 hours of their resignation.

  • The company consistently failed to pay double minimum wage for all time worked, as required by state law and wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission.

  • The company consistently failed to reimburse employees for work-related expenses, such as “various tools and protective gear.”

Godinez and other similarly situated employees seek injunctive relief, restitution and disgorgement of the company’s benefits that were received by violating state labor codes.

In an email to BevNET, Dave wrote that he’s unable to comment on the ongoing litigation, aside from the following statement:

“I am very proud to have built this company over the last twenty years on a foundation of love, gratitude, unity and a powerful sense of family amongst all involved,” he wrote. “Sometimes no matter how hard you try to create kinship and a supportive environment, some people can have an exaggerated negative experience. Opportunistic litigation has become, regrettably, commonplace in the national entrepreneurial landscape…. We believe ardently in the fair and equitable treatment of everyone who works with us and we work extremely hard to make sure our entire team is provided with a healthy, safe and happy environment. We have great confidence that the truth will illuminate this sentiment when litigation concludes.”

Dave added that the case is being “vigorously defended.”