For years retail sales representatives (RSRs) at Hershey were denied recognition of the value of their labor and were not paid for their overtime. Working up to 20 hours per week left them uncompensated. So a group of courageous people filed a lawsuit and sought to hold Hershey accountable for its conduct. A federal court agreed and found they were not exempt from overtime but were in fact entitled to receive it. Campanelli v. The Hershey Company, 765 F.Supp.2d 1185 (N.D.Cal. 2011).
But Hershey did not change its policies. As a result RSRs were still being forced to work long hours of overtime so another group of RSRs filed an action to hold Hershey accountable. During the time the second case was pending, Hershey adopted a policy providing for some overtime but refused to recognize its obligations to pay for past overtime, claiming the workers were already paid their regular salary so any overtime hours would be compensated at .5 the hourly rate. Rejecting Hershey’s “half-time” argument the federal court ruled the workers were entitled to “time and a half” (1.5) their hourly rate. Zulewski, et al. v. The Hershey Company, Case No. 4:11-cv-05117-KAW. Click here for Judge Westmore’s Order Regarding the Proper Calculation of Damages Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
By now one would think Hershey had learned the lessons either from its workers who simply wanted to be paid fairly under the law, or from two federal courts who demanded Hershey RSRs be treated fairly under the law.
But the message from corporate was not one of reconciliation and going forward, but bitterness at being held accountable. The result: RSRs who were still employed by Hershey when they sought their overtime compensation were fired, including four on the same day who had a combined 54 years of service. Of the four fired on the same date, three worked over 10 years and one over 9 years. The message they received from management was they did “not have Hershey in their hearts.”
On March 13, 2014, six of these terminated workers who were fired for asserting their overtime rights filed an anti-retaliation lawsuit in federal court in Northern California. Duran, et al v. The Hershey Company, No. C 14-01184.
What in the world is going on at Hershey?
Perhaps Hershey management could ask if it is living up to its Founder’s standards:
The Hershey Company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility is a direct reflection of our founder’s life-affirming spirit.
Or perhaps just look at the Hershey website:
Hershey’s Values, “One Hershey,” tell a powerful story: A global and diverse team, operating with integrity, working together, determined to make a difference.
Open to Possibilities
We are Open To Possibilities by embracing diversity, seeking new approaches and striving for continuous improvement.
We are Growing Together by sharing knowledge and unwrapping human potential in an environment of mutual respect.
Once again workers have been forced to ask a federal court to hold Hershey accountable and truly live up to its proclaimed values.
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