FLSA Overtime Related Reply Brief Filed In Gainesville FL

9 Apr 2014

FLSA Overtime Related Reply Brief Filed In Gainesville FL

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REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF’S FIRST AMENDED MOTION TO CONDITIONALLY CERTIFY COLLECTIVE ACTION (DOC. 11)

Plaintiff files this Reply to Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s First Amended Motion to Conditionally Certify Collective Action (Doc. 11) as follows:

Allegations of the Complaint

The gravamen of the Plaintiff’s Complaint is that the Defendant had a policy of excluding bonuses from the calculation of overtime (hereinafter referred to as the “Policy”).  Both Plaintiff and her coworkers were, and still are, subject to the Policy.

Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges in paragraph 17 that “Defendant has a pattern and practice of calculating overtime by excluding the Bonus Rate from calculation of the overtime rate.” The Complaint also alleges in paragraph 18 that “By excluding the Bonus Rate from the calculations of overtime, the Defendant violated the FLSA.”  As a result of the Defendant’s Policy, as claimed in paragraphs 23 and 25, the Plaintiff and those similarly situated were not paid correctly for overtime due.

Defendant’s Proposed Notice

A comparison of Paragraphs V and III of both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s proposed notices is important.  Paragraph V of the Plaintiff’s Proposed Notice (Doc. 9-5) provides as follows (e.s.):

YOUR RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS SUIT

If you were employed by the Defendant as a Caregivers and/or Companion Sitters for any period during the three years prior to the date of this Notice and you believe that the Defendant has failed to pay you for all overtime compensation to which you are entitled, you have the right to join the pending lawsuit against [Defendant].

Defendant’s Proposed Notice at paragraph III (Doc. 11, Page 11) changes the above to this (e.s.):

YOUR RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS SUIT

If you were employed by Sal-Mark as a Companion/Sitter and/or CNA/HOME Health Aide Caregiver for any period since June 30, 2012 and you believe that Sal-Mark has failed to pay you for all overtime  compesnation based upon the wage scale form, you have the right to join the pending lawsuit against Sal- Mark.

Defendant’s proposed Notice misleads potential class members into thinking that they must have 1) been provided “the wage scale form” to be part of the case and/or 2) be paid “based upon” it.

Defendant’s “the Wage Scale Form” Reference is Misleading

Defendant’s proposed notice never explains to the potential class member what “the wage scale form” is and how it relates to them.  It is misleading because it places the burden on the employee to figure out 1) what “the wage scale form” is and 2) whether they were paid “based upon” that form.  It provides no definitions, explanations or other guidance.

The provision was inserted by the Defendant to create confusion amongst potential class members who may not know what “the wage scale form” is and/or may never have been provided one by the Defendant.  Even more confusing would be the potential class member’s knowledge that Plaintiff was provided with a wage scale form, but they were not.   Is “the wage scale form” the one Plaintiff filed as Doc. 9-1, or some other form the Defendant either has in its possession or provided to some or all of its employees?

What if the potential class member never received a “wage scale form” but their bonuses were not included in their overtime rate?   That potential class member should be permitted to join this case — but a plain reading of Defendant’s notice would lead them to the conclusion that they could not.  At best, the use of the undefined and unclear term “the wage scale form” is unclear and intentionally confusing to potential class members. It unnecessarily complicates the proposed notice without any corresponding benefit.

The Wage Scale is Evidence of the Defendant’s Policy, Not the Basis of the Lawsuit

Whether or not the Defendant’s employees were actually provided the “Wage Scale” form is immaterial.  Defendant did not violate the FLSA by creating and handing out the “Wage Scale” form; Defendant violated the FLSA by enacting a Policy that failed to include bonuses in the overtime rate. The Plaintiff’s cause of action is for the unpaid overtime resulting from the payment of bonuses that are not included in the employees’ regular rates.

The “Wage Scale” is evidence that Defendant engaged in this practice (and had this Policy).  The practice of failing to include bonuses in the regular rate is the point of the case.

Defendant’s Notice Improperly Limits the Classby Not Including all persons “Subject To” the Policy

The Defendant’s Response (Doc. 11) is misleading when compared to the Notice it actually proposes.  Paragraphs 8 and 9 of its argument admits that the class should consist of persons “subject to this Wage Scale Form” (e.s.).  However, when drafting its Notice (via section III), the Defendant’s notice states that persons have the right to participate if they were wrongfully paid “based upon the wage scale form.” (e.s.)  That sleight of hand has serious repercussions to potential class members.

By attempting to exclude persons who never received the Wage Scale Form or whom do not even know what it is, the Defendant is attempting to exclude persons from this case that were actually “subject to” the Defendant’s Policy. This is contrary to the Defendant’s own admission that these persons should be entitled to notice of this action.

Thus, considering the Defendant’s admission that the class should consist of persons “subject to [the] Wage Scale Form”, the Notice should not be limited only to persons who know they were paid “based upon” that form.  The Policy is the linchpin, not whether or not an employee actually received a copy of “the wage scale form” or Defendant’s illegal Policy.

Conclusion

Whether or not these employees actually obtained the wage scale form nor not, they were denied the overtime due based upon the Defendant’s Policy. Therefore, it is immaterial whether the employee obtained or was provided with a copy of the Defendant’s illegal policy and/or the wage scale form, only that they were “subject to” the Policy and denied overtime as a result of said Policy.  Thus, the Plaintiff’s Proposed Notice is infinitely more fair and clear.

Respectfully submitted this April 8, 2014,

/s/ Michael Massey

Fla. Bar. No. 153680

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY that on this April 8th, 2014 I electronically filed the foregoing with the Clerk of Court by using the CM/ECF system which will send notice of electronic filing to counsel for the Defendant.

/s/ Michael Massey

Fla. Bar. No. 153680

855 E. Univ. Ave.

Gainesville, FL 32601

352-505-8900

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FLSA Overtime Related Reply Brief Filed In Gainesville FL
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FLSA Overtime Related Reply Brief Filed In Gainesville FL
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FLSA Overtime Related Reply Brief Filed In Gainesville FL by Massey & Duffy, PLLC.
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About the Author:

Michael Massey, Esq. is a lawyer focusing on personal injury, wrongful death, divorce, employment, labor, divorce, and civil litigation.