December 3, 2012 | 9:03am
Frito-Lay, makers of the popular Fritos, Tostitos and Doritos chips, routinely cheated more than 2,100 sales employees out of money owed for overtime work in California, according to a class action lawsuit.
Earlier this year, the Texas-based snack food company agreed to settle the case before an Orange County jury inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse could hear the issues by promising to craft new company rules that don't violate workers' rights laws.
Now, a federal judge in Santa Ana has handed Frito-Lay a $737,000 bill.
On Oct. 31, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter decided that the company should pay $682,226 to the class action lawyers, $40,000 for a claims administrator and a $15,000 "Incentive Award" to Edward De Stefan, the San Diego County-based company salesman who filed the lawsuit in 2009.
De Stefan, who began working for Frito-Lay in Jan. 1998, claimed the company willfully ignored overtime pay laws, cheated sales staff of due commissions when retailers returned stale products and falsified work time-sheets to mask alleged "illegal conduct."
Frito-Lay denied any wrongdoing, but their position weakened considerably in 2011 after Carter overruled their objections to convert the case into a class action lawsuit and outlined his opinion that the company likely had violated the law.
Frito-Lay North America is the $13 billion annual sales unit of PepsiCo, the global beverage/food giant.