Some employers attempt to find all kinds of ways to avoid paying their employees properly. If a business takes away wages that were legitimately earned, and then takes action against the employee for pointing out the problem, they can face a civil lawsuit.
A man from Pueblo, Colorado has won his appellate case for unpaid wages.
Worker is fired after asking for proper overtime pay
The decision came from the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The plaintiff worked full time as a traffic control supervisor for about eight years. He was initially hired as an hourly employee who received overtime regularly, then the company attempted to reclassify him as salaried to avoid paying overtime wages. His employer changed their decision again to make him an hourly employee after he retained an attorney.
About a year later after these issues classification issues, the plaintiff worked on a job in Colorado Springs where he logged 50 hours of overtime in a week. This included driving between his home and the jobsite, but the employer only expected to compensate employees at ten cents per mile for driving. The employer paid the plaintiff based on his original calculations from his timesheet, but then he started to receive threatening text messages from his employer to get more work done during his regular weekday hours. As the plaintiff continued to record overtime hours for driving and other activities, the employer terminated him for insubordination shortly afterward.
After being fired, the plaintiff filed a retaliation lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act. He believed that he was essentially terminated for asking for correct overtime wages. While the FLSA clearly does not allow employers to terminate an employee for asking for proper pay or any other legal remedies, the company counter sued for alleged civil theft and conversion.
The district court originally ruled in favor of the employer Work Zone. They said that even if there was some connection between the plaintiff’s termination and his complaints, the business would have had a legitimate reason to fire him for violating company policies after being warned. The appeals court examined the record, and found that other employees had been entitled to overtime for similar work, and that the plaintiff had been doing this kind of work previously for the company without issue for years. The case was remanded back to the trial court to be re-heard based on their findings and issues with the prior errors.
Getting legal help with an employment dispute
In these kinds of situations, it is important to retain an employment attorney to review the actions of any business. Many businesses routinely violate labor regulations and laws without even realizing that what they are doing is wrong. Unless the employee takes action, the company may continue these practices without being reprimanded for years.
Learn more about your rights as an employee
There are attorneys in Denver and other parts of Colorado work protect workers against various kinds of illegal actions by employers related to unpaid wages, discrimination, and retaliation. For assistance, contact Anderson Barkley Attorneys at Law.