Lessors, Inc. is a national trucking company based in Eagan, Minnesota. On October 16, 2013, on behalf of current and former Lessors employees, Madia Law filed a class and collective action wage and hour lawsuit against Lessors in United States District Court. The plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and other employees, allege that Lessors has purposely denied employees overtime pay.
The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act both require higher wage rates for hours worked over 40 and 48, respectively. Although there are exceptions to these rules, Plaintiffs allege that Lessors has purposefully misclassified them and other employees as falling under such an exception in order to avoid paying them the overtime wage rates for which they are entitled. The following is a summary of the allegations in the Complaint, which is titled Luis Felix, Donald Knutson, and Juan Vazquez-Perez, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated individuals and the Proposed Minnesota Rule 23 Class, Case No. 13-CV-2854 (DWF/JJG). [click to continue…]
A bipartisan unanimous vote by the Minnesota House of Representatives and a near unanimous vote by the Minnesota Senate resulted in a major victory for employees. The recent amendments to the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act, signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, clarified the ability of employees to recover unpaid wages. The amendments help to protect employees’ rights all throughout Minnesota.
The Minnesota Payment of Wages Act previously stated “When any employer employing labor within this state discharges an employee, his wages or commissions actually earned and unpaid at the time of the discharge are immediately due and payable upon demand of the employee.” The statute, on its face, appeared to safeguard the rights of employees by protecting their wages even after they are discharged. A narrow reading of the statute by the Minnesota Supreme Court caused the Minnesota Legislature to expand upon the Act. [click to continue…]
Early last month, a federal jury in the Southern District of Iowa awarded a $240 million verdict to 32 mentally disabled men that suffered through years of slave-like employment in a turkey slaughterhouse operated by Henry’s Turkey Service, also known as Hill Country Farms. Hill Country, a Texas based company, operated the slaughterhouse in Iowa and had been employing mentally disabled men for over four decades. Hill Country offered room and board in an old schoolhouse without central heat. Room and board was part of the employment benefits and calculated as earnings on top of the $2 per day salary. Supervisors that cared for the employees doled out verbal abuse, occasional physical abuse, and manual labor as punishment. The civil trial uncovered one such instance when an employee was handcuffed to his bed and left screaming and crying.
The $240 million verdict was awarded after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proved harassment and discrimination violations of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The award granted each of the 32 men about $5.5 million in compensatory damages, plus $2 million as punitive damages because Hill Country acted with malice or reckless indifference. Unfortunately, Hill Country “is believed to have no more than $4 million in assets, and… damages awarded by the jury go ‘well beyond’ what is allowed by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.” The EEOC attorney, Robert Canino, said, “I can tell you the EEOC is going to explore every option, and with great diligence, to ascertain every possible source of revenue… to satisfy the judgment.” Hill Country is also liable for over $4 million in fines for violating federal, and state, labor and wage laws.
And so, the mentally disabled ex-employees of Hill Country savored sweet justice for all of about two weeks. [click to continue…]
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is a federal law that, among other things, prohibits employers from failing to pay overtime to its employees and attempting to avoid paying overtime by classifying employees as “salaried” who should, by law, actually be paid for each hour worked. For such employees, time worked over forty hours must be compensated at time and a half. Minnesota also has a version of the the FLSA under its own state laws.
On February 18, Madia Law filed a class and collective action lawsuit in federal court against Regency Beauty Institute (a national for-profit cosmetology school) on behalf of employees in Regency’s admissions department who were: (1) initially misclassified as “salaried” employees, (2) were not paid for time worked over forty hours during the misclassification period, and (3) after they were properly classified as “hourly” employees, were required to work off the clock so Regency could avoid paying them overtime wages.
On Friday, Madia Law also filed a motion for conditional class certification (available here), which United States District Court Judge Donovan Frank will hear in early June. The following includes a summary of the allegations contained in the filings.
After a two week trial, a Carver County jury awarded Madia law client Dr. Sam Deweese nearly $1.3M in damages from his former clinic.
Dr. Deweese worked as a family practice physician for nearly twenty years at his clinic and earned high praise from his patients. He devoted his entire working life to the institution, committed himself to a high standard of excellence in his profession, and committed a large capital contribution in order to secure his partnership. Dr. Deweese alleged that his clinic’s relationship with him changed after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in summer 2007.
Madia Law represented “Laura” – a physician’s assistant who was hired by a medical clinic that found Laura through a recruiting agency. After hiring Laura, the clinic began making deductions from her checks to cover the “recruitment fee” that it paid the agency to find Laura. In total, the clinic deducted close to $30,000 from Laura’s wages to recover its recruitment costs.
Sanders v. Lee County School District, No. 10-3240 (8th Cir. 2012). An Arkansas jury found in favor of plaintiff Sharon Sanders on her Title VII claims of race discrimination and constructive discharge. The jury awarded $10,000 in compensatory damages for race discrimination, $60,825 in back and front pay damages for her constructive discharge, and $8,000 in punitive damages. After the verdict, the district court judge granted the School District’s motion under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to set aside the jury’s verdicts on constructive discharge and punitive damages. Sanders appealed the district court’s vacation of the jury’s verdicts to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and reinstated the jury’s findings.
Congress passed the LLFPA to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2007 holding in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Inc. In that case, Justice Alito led a 5-4 majority in concluding that Ledbetter could not sue Goodyear under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for gender based pay discrimination that she had experienced for almost twenty years because she did not file her charge within six months of the original decision (made decades earlier) to pay her less than her male counterparts.
The law firm Madia Law LLC is located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Madia Law's employment law attorneys and civil rights lawyers represent victims of employment discrimination, workplace retaliation, wrongful termination, civil rights violations such as excessive police force, and more. Madia Law practices in state and federal court throughout the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, and greater Minnesota, including: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Duluth, Edina, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Eagan, Woodbury, Richfield, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Blaine, St. Cloud, Lakeville, Brooklyn Park, Rochester, Superior, Hudson, River Falls, New Richmond, Eau Claire, Madison, Menomonie, La Crosse, and more.