ETOWAH, Tenn. — ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Inc. officials this week declined to comment on a lawsuit claiming that workers at three Waupaca foundries, including one here, are owed back wages and overtime pay.
Mitch Quick, an attorney for the company in Milwaukee, said his firm has “looked over” the lawsuit but has not filed an answer.
“We believe the lawsuit is without merit,” Mr. Quick said, adding that the company has fully met all laws regarding pay and overtime. He said ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Inc. will “vigorously” defend the company against the claim.
The lawsuit was filed June 4 in Wisconsin on behalf of four workers, said attorney Gordon Rudd with the law firm Zimmer Reed. Since then, 23 more workers have joined the suit and it ultimately could represent as many as 1,000 to 2,000 workers, the law firm states.
He said the employees were not paid for time they spent in locker rooms putting on protective equipment before their shifts, nor for removing equipment and showering after their shifts.
Mr. Rudd said the workers, who are exposed to silicon particles on the job, should be paid for that time under the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws.
“Since the early 1990s, the United States Department of Labor and federal courts have been steadily forcing industrial and manufacturing employers to pay wages for all hours worked, including time spent putting on, taking off and cleaning equipment, and for time walking from locker areas to the plant floors,” Mr. Rudd said.
He said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that workers who handle toxic substances should be paid for showers after a shift.
“We believe that foundry workers have the same rights under federal and state laws to be paid for all hours worked, and we will fight to obtain back wages for the ThyssenKrupp Waupaca employees,” Mr. Rudd said.
Another attorney, Joe Snodgrass said industrial workers may spend 30 minutes or more a day preparing and cleaning up before and after their shifts.
“Millions of dollars have been paid to settle some of these class-action lawsuits, and some workers have been awarded thousands of dollars in back pay,” Mr. Snodgrass said.
Mr. Rudd said the law firm is handling similar cases and issues against other companies.
ThyssenKrupp Waupaca operate six foundries, including one in Etowah that is being expanded.