LOS ANGELES – When Filipino parking attendant Dioscoro Tocong was suspended by AMPC System Parking Company (AMPCO) for a minor mistake, he got to thinking about the parking giant’s labor practices.
While waiting for his re-instatement, Tocong, who worked at the Grove parking facility in Los Angeles for eight years, approached other employees about his concerns about the company’s labor practices. He discovered that many of his co-employees had the same complaints, particularly on overtimes and meal breaks.
Realizing that he and other AMPCO workers were being shortchanged by the company in unpaid overtimes and denied or broken meal breaks, Tocong approached well-known Filipino litigation attorney C. Joe Sayas Jr. to seek his help in seeking justice against the company.
The result: AMPCO agreed to pay $4.7 million to thousands of employees in settlement of the workers’ complaints.
Atty. Sayas, co-lead counsel in the class action suit filed by the employees against AMPCO and its parent corporation, ABM Industries, one of the biggest facility service contractors in the United States, said the two companies finally agreed to a settlement recently after more than five years of litigation.
“The settlement was the result of prolonged arms-length negotiations between the parties, made after years of hard-fought litigation, including extensive discovery, multiple motions, a certification battle that went favorably for the employees, and drawn-out mediation and settlement process” Atty. Sayas said.
In the class action suit, which consolidated four related cases against AMPCO and ABM, the employees, led by Joaquin Diaz, a cashier at the AMPCO parking facility in Glendale, California, made the following claims: (1) failure to pay compensation for missed meal and rest periods; (2) failure to pay overtime; (3) failure to pay minimum wage; (4) unfair competition; (5) nonpayment of wages; (6) waiting time penalties; (7) failure to keep and furnish accurate wage statements; and (8) civil penalties under the Private Attorney General Act.
AMPCO operates about 750 parking facilities in California, which range from retail complexes to airports. The company employs hourly employees in non-exempt positions at these various locations, including valets, attendants cashiers, and maintenance workers.
Joe Sayas and Randy Renick were appointed co-lead counsel for the consolidated action. The case was mediated by one of California’s leading class action mediator, Mark Rudy. A settlement conference was later held before the Los Angeles Court’s Complex Action Department judge, the Hon. William Highberger. The Hon. Jane Johnson granted final approval of the settlement.
“Class actions in employment cases like this one benefit employees not only in terms of paying back wages due. It also changes employers’ wage practices and make them conform with the law, further benefitting employees in the long run. Our law firm is happy to have served the interests of employees in the class actions that we have prosecuted,” Atty. Sayas said.
“Overall, the settlement is fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the settlement class, in light of all facts and circumstances revealed by the parties’ extensive discovery, and the inherent risks and uncertainty of further litigation, including potential appellate issues relevant to this wage-and-hour action,” Atty. Sayas said.
“We are thankful to Atty. Sayas, his staff and his co-counsels. They were very helpful throughout the case, and never failed to update us on its status. He went well prepared to every meeting between the company’s lawyers and our counsels. He is truly a super-lawyer,” said Tocong, who is now back as a check-in service attendant at the Burbank Airport, where he worked as a scanner before he transferred to AMPCO.
The Glendale-based Atty. Sayas, who was designated Super Lawyer in February by Super Lawyer and Los Angeles Magazine, has won over $50 million in recoveries for his clients over the course of his 25 years of law practice.