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Virgin America Flight Attendants Win $60M Lawsuit

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(July 10, 2018, 9:58 PM EDT) — Flight attendants have won summary judgment in California federal court on claims that Virgin America Inc. deprived them of meal and rest periods in addition to shorting their overtime pay, leading the class counsel to say her clients look forward to proving their damages exceed $60 million.

U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar’s order on Monday largely held that his prior rulings in the case and the weight of evidence provided by plaintiffs entitled the flight attendants to summary judgment. Monique Olivier of Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP representing the class, told Law360 on Tuesday that the orders recognized Virgin’s “undisputed practice of failing to pay flight attendants for all their hours worked.””This is a significant victory for workers,” Olivier said. “Plaintiffs’ expert calculated the wage loss and penalties through March 2017 to exceed $50 million. Plaintiffs expect the final judgment to include damages, which are still ongoing, to exceed $60 million.”

The judge’s orders indicated that future proceedings, either by the court or by a jury, will determine damages based on the flight attendants’ regular rate of pay.

In the suit, filed in 2015, lead plaintiff Julia Bernstein claims Virgin failed to pay its flight attendants for all the time spent before, after and between flights, for writing up incident reports, for time spent in training and for undergoing required drug tests. The class also alleges Virgin doesn’t allow flight attendants to take meal or rest breaks, failed to pay overtime and minimum wages and didn’t provide accurate wage statements.

Judge Tigar had rejected Virgin’s previous attempt to dodge most of the suit with a summary judgment bid, ruling in January 2017 that California labor law applied to all work that happened in California and in situations where employment policies were decided from Virgin’s then-headquarters in the Golden State. Virgin has since been bought by Alaska Airlines, which is based in Seattle.

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–Additional reporting by Cara Bayles and Linda Chiem. Editing by Nicole Bleier.

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