Manhattan Beer Distributors Class Action: The beverage giant profits by unlawfully deducting its employees’ wages for minor losses like unreturned wood pallets. Under the wage laws, however, these losses are the Company’s responsibility, not its workers’. To compound the wage theft, Manhattan Beer fails to pay its drivers and helpers overtime even though they routinely work through lunch and log 10+ hour days in order to make on-time deliveries to customers.
“Manhattan Beer claims that the key to its success are the company’s ‘good, dedicated, hard-working people,’” says lead lawyer Steven Wittels. “But woe to those hard-workers if they so much as make a small mistake on the job, like getting a parking ticket, or having a miscount on a delivery, because then they’ll find themselves docked for hundreds of dollars in pay. New York flat out prohibits these wage deductions, but the Company apparently plays by its own rules.”
Brought on behalf of the beverage company’s drivers and driver’s helpers, the class action lawsuit further details how the company’s wage practices violate both the Federal Fair Labors Standards Act and New York Labor Law. The suit seeks $50 million in restitution, unpaid wages, and overtime and statutory penalties for Manhattan Beer’s willful violations of law.
“To make matters worse,” explains Tiasha Palikovic of Wittels Law, “when Manhattan Beer takes out these deductions for say a miscounted case of beer, they don’t charge the Company’s actual wholesale cost, but instead force the drivers to pay retail prices. They’re essentially telling their employees: ‘Thanks for being our customer. If you don’t like it, you’re fired.’”
Manhattan Beer is responsible for at least 80% of the sales of beer in New York and controls the distribution of such household brands as Coors, Corona, Heineken, Miller, and Brooklyn Brewery. With over 1.5 million square feet of warehousing, and more than 25,000 accounts across 15 New York counties, its operations would be impossible without the hard work of what the company calls its “dedicated delivery force.”
“Manhattan Beer is squeezing its hardest working employees while continuing to grow. Unless this case is certified as a class action,” adds class attorney J. Burkett McInturff, “the distribution company will continue to profit from its unlawful labor practices with impunity. With the ever-increasing importance of delivery services in today’s economy, and the expanding ranks of the delivery workforce, it is more important than ever to ensure that businesses don’t trample the rights of workers in the field.”
The suit maintains that Manhattan Beer owes thousands of dollars each to the class of delivery drivers and helpers – which includes workers in the Company’s Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Hudson Valley facilities. In addition to back pay and overtime compensation, the class action asks for punitive and liquidated damages, prejudgment interest, costs, and other restitution.
“Manhattan Beer’s delivery workers want nothing more than what all employees want: to be paid fairly for their work,” says Mr. Wittels. “The beer deliverer reaps hefty revenues exploiting its workers, many of whom are Latino and African American workers already struggling to make ends meet. This lawsuit sends a message that Manhattan Beer can’t get away with business as usual.”
The plaintiffs’ legal team, Steven L. Wittels, J. Burkett McInturff, and Tiasha Palikovic, has requested a jury trial. For more information, or to join this case contact us.