Hot dog vendors sue Super Bowl concessionaire for trapping them on bus line with no pay

A group of Super Bowl 50 workers have sued Levi’s Stadium concessionaire Centerplate for labor law violations, charging that they were illegally denied required pay and rest breaks during the game. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw lead plaintiff Gabriel Thompson’s writeup of his Super Bowl hot-dog-vending experience in Slate (with the help of a grant from the Nation Investigative Fund — hi, Esther!):

I swipe my card at 8:36 a.m. I am now on the clock, more than 90 minutes after I arrived to catch the shuttle. This unpaid time is likely illegal: In 2000, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers who require workers to travel in company vehicles must be paid from the time they were told to arrive at the departure point…

[After the game,] thousands of workers are shuffling slowly along a path that follows alongside a tennis court, passes over a small bridge and finally spills out onto a road, where two buses idle. It takes me seven minutes to make my way to the end of the line; by that time it has stopped completely. We all wait for another 20 minutes, without moving. More workers join, and the line becomes tighter and hotter. Many people have been on their feet since 4 a.m., and we are packed so closely that sitting down is impossible. One woman starts sobbing.

Another hour passes. We’ve moved about two hundred feet. “There’s gonna be a riot here!” someone yells. It certainly feels possible. A chant breaks out: “We want to go home! We want to go home!” The crowd gets even tighter and pushier. At one point, a group next to me tries to shove its way through, but there’s nowhere to go, and they only succeed in knocking a few people to the ground. A second woman breaks down into tears and is escorted out. It’s now 11 p.m. The urge to sit has become overwhelming. Two groups of men have somehow decided they ought to fight each other, but it’s too crowded even to do that. I end up next to a temp from Culinary Staffing America, who, like me, has already clocked out and so likely won’t be paid for this time. Others nearby, direct employees of Levi’s Stadium, are incredulous when we tell them that. They’ve been instructed to clock out after they reach Avaya Stadium.

The two takeaways here: The bulk of the jobs created by the presence of a Super Bowl (such that it really creates any at all) are exceptionally crappy ones; and crappy jobs in the 21st century U.S. are exceptionally crappy indeed. One of Thompson’s co-workers in Santa Clara was a woman who earned $11 an hour through a temp agency and “was living in a storage unit in a San Jose trailer park.” America!

11 comments on “Hot dog vendors sue Super Bowl concessionaire for trapping them on bus line with no pay

  1. This seems to be similar to the treatment and lawsuits regarding team cheerleaders. What an elitist form of entertainment the masses supposedly go along with. Reminds of that skit you posted from a TV comedy show a few months ago – just say no.

  2. Give me a break. Yes, if what the author is saying is true, then that’s objectionable and the staffing company should be punished. The rest of what you people are writing is nonsense. Low paying, often crappy jobs are essential for teens, part timers and people just starting out in the workforce. Take that away and you eventually get the Paris Attacks.

  3. Ben, or “low paying, often crappy jobs” could be a product of greed, racketeering by business owners and an abusive and exploitive system – which is how we have become a country with a wealth distribution problem. I grew up on a family farm shoveling hog manure in a hog parlor and baby sat three children at a time for 50 cents an hour. However, what some people expect total strangers to work for is a joke while they pad their own pockets. The cheerleaders (many of them are not teenagers) have been winning their lawsuits – good for them. They were proving they were paid below minimum wage for their efforts and sometimes expected to work for free,

  4. “what the rest of you people are writing is nonsense”.

    Hmmn. That was posted after just one comment on the story.
    I wonder who “you people” are?

    There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that terrorist attacks are the result of an absence of low paying crappy jobs either. But hey, why let facts get in the way of an ideological point.

  5. Hey, I’m people! Not that I said anything at all about low pay being the problem – it’s not being paid while not allowed to go home that was the problem here – but I’m willing to play straw man, I guess. What are the hours?

  6. Read the article. The same crew, including the Slate author, worked the last several 49ers games.

  7. At least they got paid. People in Houston are falling over themselves to volunteer for the Super Bowl welcome party. You have to fill out an application, take a background check, interview and promise to work 3 unpaid shifts.

    Aint no way. A $9 Billon can afford to pay for this. Unfortunately there are too many people that will do anything to be associated with a team.

  8. What irks me is that the owners and players make SO much and neither wants to spread it around. Also, this low pay represents another gov subsidiary because there’s no way these employees can live off this so most will be on some kind of additional gov assistance.

  9. Sorry Neil, yes you are people. Or a person at least. For all I know, you could be ten people….

  10. These are the “good jobs” the stadium is supporting. Well that was what was on all the yard signs before the stadium vote “Schools, Jobs, Santa Clara!” (I didn’t forget.)