Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Fuyao Glass Faces Labor Pains From Wage Suit, NLRB Probes

Aug. 20, 2018, 8:27 PM

Chinese auto-glass maker Fuyao is fighting on two fronts in Ohio, defending a 600-worker suit over alleged pay violations and facing multiple National Labor Relations Board investigations.

The company and NLRB attorneys will have a conference Aug. 24 in a court skirmish over whether Fuyao must provide attendance and termination documentation on hundreds of employees. This is the second case where the NLRB has sought extensive records into attendance and discipline practices after workers alleged they were terminated for associating with the United Auto Workers, which failed to organize the Dayton facility last year.

While the challenges from the NLRB continue, an unrelated and larger set of claims is building around payment practices at the plant, which is the world’s largest auto-glass manufacturing site. Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered conditional certification of workers claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

That suit started when one plaintiff said she was denied appropriate holiday pay and received a gift card instead. It has now widened into claims that the company frequently didn’t pay employees for time worked before or after their shifts began.

This week, an attorney representing a class of Fuyao workers told The Dayton Daily News they’ve gotten 636 employees—equal to about one-third of Fuyao’s current workforce—to join the suit.

The certification means that attorneys for the workers can conduct deeper discovery over the alleged violations. A later “de-certification” can occur if Fuyao convinces the court the class doesn’t have evidence of its claims, or shouldn’t get to bring the suit as a class.

‘Fishing Expedition’ for Documents

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and Fuyao didn’t immediately return Bloomberg Law’s emails or phone calls. However, in court documents, the company has denied union and employee claims.

In relation to the NLRB charges, Fuyao claimed employees were properly terminated for violating company policies, including poor attendance or being belligerent or disobedient on the job. One worker who also claims he was denied a promotion because of his affiliation with UAW didn’t actually complete the job application, Fuyao said.

Still, the NLRB is seeking documents regarding the attendance and discipline of more than 400 workers, much of which the company doesn’t have in an electronic format, Fuyao said. In a brief opposing that request, Fuyao called the subpoena a “fishing expedition.”

Fuyao successfully narrowed a previous NLRB subpoena for documents.

In March, a federal court ruled that the NLRB wasn’t entitled to all “names, contact information, attendance records, and all discipline and discharge records for attendance violations, for all employees” in the facility’s after-market replacement glass department. Instead, the company had to only supply documents under the complaining worker’s former supervisor.

The case is: Lindsay v. Fuyao Glass America, Inc., S.D. Ohio, No. 3:18-mc-2, Conference Ordered 8/24/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com and Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com