Trial in lawsuit against Lund, Brunswick begins

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – The trial in a class-action lawsuit brought by 19 former and current employees against Lund Boat Co. and its parent company, Brunswick Corporation, has begun, with opposing attorneys disputing whether or not employees understood changes to the corporate vacation policy made when Lund changed hands in 2004, the Fergus Falls Journal reported in a story this week.

The lawsuit, filed in a Minnesota District Court in June 2007 on behalf of over 200 people, alleges that Lund denied the employees vacation pay in the months after the company was purchased by Brunswick Corporation in April 2004.

Under Lund’s previous owner, Genmar Industries, Inc., employees earned vacation hours on July 1 of each year. Those hours, based on years of service with the company, could be used to take time off until June 30 of the next year. Employees who didn’t use all of their vacation hours received cash payouts before the start of the next model year, the newspaper reported.

With the purchase by Brunswick, the policy changed. As of July 1, 2005, employees began to earn vacation hours on a per-pay-period basis based on years of service. This “earn and burn” policy did not allow accruals or rollovers. Plaintiffs claim they lost vacation time in the transition, while company management says employees received as much, if not more, vacation in the switch to the new policy, according to the story.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are arguing that companywide meetings on the new policy, which took place in October 2004, did not represent a legal change in the policy. But an attorney for Lund said the employees’ contracts were effectively modified with those meetings, which outlined changes to benefits that employees accepted as legitimate despite objections to the vacation policy, the newspaper reported.

The trial, which began Tuesday is scheduled to last three to four days.

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