Lawsuit Alleges Valero Underpays Convenience-Store Workers

HOUSTON – (Dow Jones)- A federal class-action lawsuit was filed Monday against Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) accusing the company of underpaying and overworking convenience-store employees.

The lawsuit could result in a judgment of up to $100 million, according to Steven Wittels, attorney for the plaintiffs, of Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP.

Valero’s attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment.

Two former store managers and one current manager are named in the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

As hourly employees, the three women were not paid for overtime work and on- call time, their attorneys said. The women, all of Santa Cruz, Calif., were not allowed meal breaks and could not take their two 10-minute breaks, which are guaranteed by law, the attorneys said.

Additionally, if any of the employees they managed worked overtime, the company would deduct wages from the women’s paychecks, said Janette Wipper, another attorney working on the case. This was the company’s way to keep overtime down, Wipper said.

“They complained a lot,” said Wipper, also of Sanford Wittels & Heisler. “Their complaints were ignored.”

Valero owns 1,000 gasoline stations and corner stores. There are also about 5, 800 Valero-branded stores that are owned and operated by wholesalers. Valero is also the largest independent refiner of oil in the U.S.

-By Susan Daker, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9208; susan.daker@dowjones.com

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