Coke Sued For Underpaying Overtime

March 11, 2002 ( - Nine former and current Coca-Cola employees have sued their employer, alleging the soft-drink firm bilked workers out of at least $200 million in wages over the past four years.

The three class-action lawsuits also claim that Coke and its California subsidiaries retaliated against those who tried to stop the practice, according to the Associated Press.

Peter Santilli, a former district sales manager at a Coca-Cola sales center in Rancho Cucamonga, claims he was fired after complaining about a practice that cut overtime hours for merchandisers.  According to the AP report, Santilli and other managers were expected to manipulate an electronic timekeeping system and edit out overtime hours worked by those merchandisers, who typically earn $8 per hour restocking store shelves with Coke products.

Time Talk
Other plaintiffs claim they worked 11-hour days, only to be talked out of claiming overtime by company managers.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Southern California, which owns the sales center, denied the claims.

Last year, Coke paid $20.2 million to settle a class-action suit filed on behalf of salaried account managers and merchandisers, who had alleged the company unlawfully failed to pay them overtime wages.

Similar overtime suits have been filed against Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer (see Employee Suits Spring Up At Wal-Mart ).