Several SkyWest workers secured a $4.2 million settlement with the airline, resolving their suit which claimed the airline failed to provide meal and rest breaks to employees as required by state law.
Cody Meek, Coryell Ross, and Jeremy Barnes asked the court Monday to preliminarily approve their settlement agreement with SkyWest Inc. in order to resolve the five-year-old class action. If approved, the agreement would end the ground service workers' allegations that they had to work through rest and meal breaks due to the demands of their jobs.
"Given the complexity of this litigation, the potential difficulty of proving certain elements of the class's claims at trial, and the continued risks of maintaining class certification through to trial," the workers said, "the settlement represents a favorable resolution of this action and eliminates the risk that the class might otherwise recover nothing."
The workers gained class certification for four groups of employees in September on their meal break claims. The nearly $4.2 million settlement will issue awards to about 1,800 members of the class – who are expected to receive an average of $1,400 each after fees are deducted from the total award.
The workers said the parties participated in numerous settlement conferences in an effort to broker an agreement, dating back to 2018.
After class certification had been awarded, the parties attended a full day of meditation in November. While a settlement was not reached that day, negotiations continued in the following weeks which eventually led to the agreement before the court for approval.
The settlement would allocate $20,000 in administrative costs and $15,000 to the state of California in Private Attorneys General Act penalties. The class representatives are set to receive $15,000 total, resulting in three individual $5,000 awards.
The workers' attorneys are set to receive a nearly $1.4 million award, or 33% of the total fund. The settlement also awards $180,000 in litigation costs, leaving nearly $2.6 million left for workers.
The workers stated, "Negotiations were well-informed, non-collusive and therefore this factor warrants approval of the settlement."
Meek originally sued SkyWest in 2017 claiming the company withheld minimum and overtime wages and failed to provide accurate wage statements. The complaint was later amended to add the meal break claims. Meek saw his suit combined in 2018 with a complaint filed by Ross and Barnes, claiming similar causes of action.
SkyWest was granted summary judgment on the overtime claim in 2018 and was also granted summary judgment on the failure to pay minimum wage under San Francisco law in August.