Wage and hour violation claims can sometimes be unique. A very recent case decided by the federal court in Pennsylvania involved an interesting claim brought by landscapers performing work at their employer’s home after hours. The issue was whether these landscapers could sue because they were not paid overtime for that work. They worked for a real estate company and the company’s owner had them performing landscaping work at two of his personal residences.
Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is considered any time spent working over eight hours a day or forty hours a week. The FLSA, a federal law, requires employers to pay hourly employees one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked. Although there are a few exceptions, these exceptions only apply to certain employees in certain situations.
Bedolla v. Brandolini Alleged Wage Violations
The plaintiffs were landscapers and were required to perform work at the homes of the owner, chairman, and CEO of the real estate company. One of the workers was terminated, leaving the other to take on those additional duties. The worker questioned his supervisor about compensation for the overtime worked and then sent a letter directly to the owner complaining that he was not being fairly compensated. It is alleged that the employee was then subjected to retaliation because of his complaints and requests for overtime compensation. Specifically, he alleged that he was accused of engaging in misconduct and denied continued use of a work vehicle. He was also denied overtime compensation. Finally, not long after his complaint, he was terminated and not paid for the time he had worked on the final day.
Legal issue regarding joint employment status
The workers filed the lawsuit against both the real estate company and the owner for whom they were performing the work at the owner’s residence. One of the issues the court had to address in that case was whether the defendants were joint employers. In other words, did they both control and direct the employees and their work?
Among other things, the plaintiffs asserted that their paystubs listed the company address and the owner himself as the employer. They also argued that the company “required or permitted” the owner to use shirts and jackets with the company logo for the landscapers to wear while performing their duties which meant they were holding themselves out to the public as employees. Ultimately, the court found that the company exerted “significant control” over the employees and allowed them to proceed on a joint employment theory against both named defendants.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Michel | King. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!