“L.A. to pay $26 million for ban on naps by garbage-truck drivers”

by Walter Olson on August 26, 2014

The many, many pitfalls of wage-and-hour law: “The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday finalized a $26-million legal settlement to end a lawsuit over a ban on lunchtime naps by trash-truck drivers. … Sanitation officials had imposed the no-nap rule to avoid the bad publicity that would come if a resident, business owner or television news crew stumbled across a sleeping city employee. But lawyers for the drivers said the city, by limiting workers’ mealtime activities, had essentially robbed them of their meal breaks.” [Los Angeles Times]

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 C 08.26.14 at 12:56 pm

As part of the deal, Taylor and other lawyers for the drivers will receive nearly $8.7 million in legal fees.

This seems excessive for a case with seemingly undisputed facts that settles out of court. Even if they billed at $1087.50 per hour, they’d need to have had a team of 8 lawyers who all worked on it exclusively for 50 hours per week for 20 weeks to be able to justify that. And I can pretty much guarantee that they did not have 8 lawyers working on this for 50 hours a week for 20 weeks, and I’m thinking that if they billed at $1087.50 per hour they wouldn’t have very many clients unless they were literally the best lawyers in the country.

The workers each end up with $15,000 (which itself seems like a lot for lunch restrictions.) The lawyers win the lottery.

2 Hugo S Cunningham 08.26.14 at 2:45 pm

When driving for long periods, I have often found a 10-15 catnap to be a perfect way to restore alert driving. Provided catnaps do not exceed normal break times, management should be willing to ignore Internet shark.

3 ras 08.26.14 at 2:57 pm

Get this thrown out and the garbage-truck drivers will get it all.

4 John Burgess 08.26.14 at 4:37 pm

@ras: But if the garbage-truck drivers get it all, what’s left for the po-po?

5 MattS 08.26.14 at 5:28 pm

Hugo,

” Provided catnaps do not exceed normal break times, management should be willing to ignore Internet shark.”

Internet sharks have nothing to do with this issue.

The problem with your point of view, is that management can’t ignore city councilman A who is irate because citizen / taxpayer B was in his office ranting about seeing city workers (whose salaries his taxes pay) sleeping on the job.

The same goes for having video footage of city workers sleeping on the job on the local TV news. This also leads to local citizens/taxpayers complaining to their city councilmen and the City councilmen coming down on non-elected managers in charge of the employees in question.

6 No Name Guy 08.27.14 at 12:27 pm

Am I the only one to see the obvious solution to this? Why the heck are garbage truck drivers employed by the City? Hauling trash is not inherently a government function (like Police or Fire) – fire them all. Private trash haulers can do the job better and cheaper than Government.

Instead, impose a regulation on business to demonstrate by a clearly defined set of criteria that they dispose of their waste properly (e.g. by submitting copies of invoices / service contracts that are in line with the level of typical trash generation for the type of business). Ditto for residents. Let any and all private trash hauler contractors into the market. Let and and all residents / businesses choose their own service providers (or to self haul to the transfer station). Administer compliance with a trivially low excise tax per ton of trash collected.

7 Walter Olson 08.27.14 at 12:47 pm
8 No Name Guy 08.27.14 at 5:48 pm

Ahhh yes W/O…..the better to get kickbacks….er campaign contributions.

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