New York (AP) – Liquidators in a $3 billion settlement to a class-action lawsuit by the workers who lost their jobs at an air conditioning plant in Texas will receive nearly $3 million in compensation and a bonus of nearly $1 million.
The workers, many of whom had been on sick leave since the disaster, filed the lawsuit on behalf of all the workers at the same facility, which was closed in July 2017 after the explosion.
The settlement, which will be approved by the Federal Circuit Court in New York, will also require the company to pay the workers’ legal fees and costs.
The agreement includes a provision requiring the company “to compensate and compensate at least $2 million” to the workers for medical expenses and the loss of their homes.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement with the class,” said Lisa Schmidhuber, a lawyer for the class in the suit, in a statement Friday.
“This settlement is an important step in our efforts to help the class recover the lost compensation and benefits they have suffered.”
The workers filed the suit on behalf, among others, of a group of retirees at the San Antonio Air Conditioning Center.
They claimed they were forced to work long hours, were paid only $5 per hour, and had to work without health insurance or vacation time.
The Texas court granted them a preliminary injunction, which requires the company, the city of San Antonio, and the Texas Department of Insurance to immediately open the facility and begin hiring qualified applicants.
The company is expected to start hiring qualified candidates by mid-October, and will provide information about the process of finding new employees, the settlement said.
The plaintiffs said in their lawsuit that the company had made no effort to hire qualified applicants for their positions, that the workers had no choice but to work longer hours than they were paid, and that the air conditioning had not been properly ventilated and the air was not properly insulated.
The lawsuit accused the company of violating state and federal labor laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The state of Texas is paying for the workers legal fees, and attorneys for the plaintiffs are expected to argue before the court that the settlement will be enforceable.
In September, the state of Virginia agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle a similar lawsuit by workers at a gas station in Newport News, Virginia.