Recent Rulings: Overtime Claims
May 15, 2015, Attorneys Rick Hayber and Tony Pantuso of the Hayber Law Firm won a jury verdict in favor of an insurance underwriter who sued his former employer, Chubb & Son, Inc., for unpaid overtime premium pay. The underwriter had been classified as an exempt, salaried employee and worked more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay. In this important case, the jury found that the underwriter had worked more than 40 hours per week; that the company did not prove that he was an exempt “administrator,” and that the underwriter was entitled to more than $18,000 in unpaid overtime pay. This case was brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and is the first such win for an insurance underwriter in the country. Graves v. Chubb & Son, Inc., case No. 3:12-cv-00568 (JCH) (filed April 16, 2012).
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a class of waiters who had been forced to share their tips with other employees at a restaurant were entitled to proceed together as a class. In this case, the employer/restaurant tried to argue that the waiters were too different to bring their case together, but the judge disagreed. Under federal law, wait staff cannot be forced to share their tips with managers or other employees who aren't usually tipped because they make less than the minimum wage per hour.
Shahriar v. Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc., 2011 WL 4436284 (2d Cir. Sept. 26, 2011).
A federal appeals court in New York recently reversed a judge who dismissed an employee's claim for overtime. In this case, the employee was required to keep track of his hours each week. He worked as a rep for a hardware company, and so he split his time between Home Depot stores and his home office where he had to communicate with his supervisors and do his paperwork. His supervisors frequently told him that he was not supposed to work more than 40 hours per week, and so he never recorded more than 40 hours even though he almost always worked more than 40. The trial court judge dismissed his claim, holding that because he had falsified the time sheets himself, he wasn't entitled to overtime for the hours he worked "off the clock." The appeals court reversed, holding that because it was the employer's policy that its employees not work more than 40 hours, he should be compensated for this time.
Kuebel v. Black & Decker, Inc., 643 F.3d 352 (2d Cir. 2011).
A federal court in Connecticut recently held that a pizza delivery driver was an employee and not an independent contractor and that he could proceed with his case for overtime pay. The delivery driver worked 60 hours per week and was paid between $6 and $8 per hour- well below the minimum wage- in cash under the table. His employer attempted to argue that because the driver was an "independent contractor," he was not entitled to the minimum wage or overtime pay. The court held that the driver didn't have sufficient control over his employment and didn't have an independently established business and didn't have any special skills such to make him an independent contractor.
Campos v. Zopounidis, 2011 WL 2971298 (D. Conn. July 20, 2011) (Bryant, J.).
A judge in federal court in Connecticut has allowed a class action for "Level One Managers" at SNET to go forward after SNET moved to have their state law claims dismissed. In that case, a group of employees who are paid a weekly salary and no overtime pay have challenged their employer's decision to deny them overtime pay. These employees are called managers even though most of what they do is strictly governed by SNET's rules and procedures.
Perkins v. SNET, Case No. 3:07-cv-00967 (D. Conn. June 1, 2011) (Hall, J.).
The Fair Labor Standards Act contains an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain that the employer is violating the FLSA by not paying overtime or minimum wage. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that this law protects employees who complain orally to their supervisors as well as in writing to the government. Thus, an employee who complained to his supervisor that he was not getting paid for the time he spent putting on his work clothes and taking them off, and was subsequently fired for causing trouble, could sue his employer under the FLSA.
Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 2011 WL 977061
(U.S. March 22, 2011) (Breyer, J.).