A lifeguard is seeking a class action lawsuit alleging his former employer violated California labor laws.
A complaint filed in Superior Court of California, San Bernardino District, accuses Splash Kingdom in Redlands of a number of wage violations, including …
• Failing to pay for hours worked
• Failing to compensate for overtime
• Failing to provide meal and rest breaks
• Failing to pay accurate and complete wages
Some of the allegations stem from the park’s mandate that all employees arrive in uniform 15 minutes before their shifts.
During this time, the plaintiff claimed, he routinely tended to guests’ needs but was not paid for this time.
“When you ask an employee to do that, that’s when you should start their time on the clock,” said John Girardi, a Los Angeles based trial lawyer representing the 17-year-old plaintiff.
The lifeguard also alleges that he was not given “reporting pay.” This is compensation given to employees who report to work for their scheduled shifts but are sent home due to a scheduling error or because their services weren’t needed. California wage law stipulates that employees in the recreation and amusement industry are to be paid no fewer than two hours’ wages for this.
Also, the complaint says that Splash Kingdom’s human resources personnel routinely hand wrote start and end times for employees. “Often these were inaccurate, resulting in the plaintiff and those similarly situated to go without compensation for the total amount of time worked,” the complaint stated. Handwritten notations also indicated meal and break times that the plaintiff was not afforded, the complaint alleged.
Furthermore, the plaintiff said, lifeguards were not paid when they were placed on rotator positions for the first 30 minutes of their scheduled shifts. This half hour was unaccounted for on pay stubs, he added.
The plaintiff also claims he was not reimbursed for items necessary to do his job, such as sunscreen, sunglasses and uniform.
In a statement to AI, Splash Kingdom's general manger, Matt Keil, said: "Splash Kingdom Waterpark seeks to provide great family entertainment in our community. We are pleased to provide many employment opportunities to local residents, and are particularly proud to be one of the largest employers of young people in the Redlands area. We are saddened by this allegation and although we cannot comment on it directly due to the pending litigation, it is certainly our desire to comply with the law in every way and treat those that work with us as family.”
Splash Kingdom, owned by Waterpark Ventures, filed an objection to the complaint -- called a demurrer in legalese -- that said the plaintiff’s allegations are too broad and lack the necessarily specifics to prove fraud. It also noted that the plaintiff failed to identify a specific amount he felt he was owed.
A judge will determine if the waterpark’s employees constitute a class of people who could seek recourse. If so, any current or former employee who has worked for Splash Kingdom within the past four years – the statute of limitations in these cases – could participate in the lawsuit, Girardi said.
The waterpark employs about 150 people between April and October every year.
The plaintiff worked for Splash Kingdom for approximately five months in 2015 before he was “constructively discharged,” according to the complaint. That means he wasn’t outright terminated, Girardi said. Rather, his employer simply stopped scheduling him for shifts.