Class Action Lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch Heads to Arbitration
Monday, December, 15, 2014
A lawsuit over unpaid overtime that has snowballed into a class-action lawsuit has been referred back to arbitration as per the binding arbitration agreement they consented to. This ruling comes even though the drivers involved in the class action claim they never received a copy of the agreement in the mail.
The suit centers on claims by the drivers that the huge brewer failed to pay them overtime as agreed and also denied them contractually stipulated paid breaks. They cited safety and health concerns, saying that the brewer forced them to drive without adequate rest, endangering themselves and other drivers, and that the lack of paid breaks also resulted in lack of proper sleep and poor eating habits, which contributed to various health issues.
Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest brewers in the world, with annual revenues in excess of $40 billion. The company countered by claiming the dispute had to be handled in arbitration as per the agreement it had with the drivers. When the drivers claimed the arbitration agreement was unenforceable because they had never received a copy of it, the company sought a court order forcing them to enter arbitration instead of litigation, which it was successful in doing.
An arbitrator may still rule in favor of the drivers, but statistics show lawsuits tend to reap larger settlements than arbitration, and many employees feel the arbitration deck is stacked against them when the company assumes the costs of arranging the arbitration – and thus is responsible for choosing the arbitrator and the procedures.