LaBar & Adams, P.A. was honored to be appointed as Class Counsel for a group of employees denied proper overtime pay in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. We take such representation extremely seriously and always attempt to right the wrongs suffered by the Class. This is because it is self-evident that an employee should be able to expect his employer to treat him justly and fairly. See Colossians 4:1 (NKJV). An employee has the right to expect to be rewarded for his work. See Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution And, as the Florida Supreme Court has recognized, an employee’s industriousness is God given or self-cultivated to which an employer cannot claim an interest, see Love v. Miami Laundry, Co., 118 Fla. 137, 147-48 (1935), but rather must pay for the benefit of such hard work. See e.g. A.H. Phillips, Inc. v. Walling, 324 U.S. 490, 493 (1945). Such pay is necessary to provide a decent and healthy life for employees and their families, to protect employers from unfair low-wage competition, and prevent employees from being forced to rely upon taxpayer-funded public services in order to avoid economic hardship. See Article X, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution.
Class of Employees
Confronted with an employer who was depriving its Employees their rightful wages and obtaining an unfair competitive edge by suppressing proper wages, the Employment Lawyers at LaBar & Adams, P.A. filed a collective action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former hourly General Foreperson that worked for Asplundh Tree Expert in Florida during the preceding three (3) years. The lawsuit was filed pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) seeking unpaid overtime wages owed to the Class of Employees.
Due to a voluminous work load, the General Forepersons worked many hours in excess of forty (40) in a given workweek. The General Forepersons alleged that Asplundh management instructed them that they could not record their time spent working if such time could not be charged to customers. This time included spending time attending meetings, responding to emails, completing paperwork, repairing equipment, etc. The General Forepersons also alleged that they were instructed to deduct a lunch from their work time even if one was not taken or one was interrupted.
Litigation and Court Action
United States District Judge Paul G. Byron appointed LaBar & Adams, P.A. as Class Counsel of a Class of employees of Asplundh who: (1) are or were employed as “General Foreperson” in South Florida, Central Florida, or North Florida during the preceding three (3) years; (2) were paid an hourly rate; and (3) worked more than forty hours in a work week without being paid proper overtime compensation. The matter was aggressively litigated with thousands of pages of documents produced during discovery, numerous depositions being taken, and extensive motion practice.
Asplundh filed a Motion for Decertification of the Conditionally Certified Class arguing that the case could not go to trial as a Class because the General Forepersons were not sufficiently similarly situated. The General Forepersons countered Asplundh’s argument by producing evidence that a reasonable jury could conclude that Asplundh had an unwritten policy of instructing General Forepersons in Florida to underreport their hours and thus work off-the-clock. The General Forepersons also produced evidence demonstrating that they all had the same job title- “General Foreperson,” they all had similar job duties, they were all paid an hourly rate, they all worked in Florida in one of three of Asplundh’s Florida regions, they were all supervised by one of three Supervisors, they were are claiming overtime from 2014 to 2017, and all the General Forepersons were governed by similar company policies. Thus, the General Forepersons were similarly situated. District Judge Paul G. Byron entered an Order denying Asplundh’s Motion for Decertification of the Conditionally Certified Class and allowing the matter to proceed to trial as a Collective Action.
Jury Renders Justice
LaBar & Adams, P.A. next selected a jury to determined whether the Class of General Forepersons were entitled to unpaid overtime. After reviewing all the evidence marshaled in the case and hearing arguments of counsel, the jury returned a verdict awarding a total of $606,040.00 in unpaid overtime wages to the General Forepersons. The jury also found that Asplundh’s actions were willful or showed reckless disregard for whether the FLSA prohibited its conduct. Based on this finding, United States District Judge Paul G. Byron entered an Order awarding an equal amount of liquidated damages. Based on the jury’s verdict and the Judge’s Order, Judgment was entered in favor General Forepersons in the amount of $1,212,080.00
As Employers find-out and our current and prior clients know, the Employment Lawyers at LaBar & Adams, P.A. are committed to seeking justice for employees. This case is another demonstration that our attorneys are willing to go to any lengths to fight for Employee Rights.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of an unfair employment practice, please contact the employment lawyers at LaBar & Adams, P.A. at 407-835-8968 or www.labaradams.com.