Want to stop supervisors who allow off-the-clock work or look the other way when employees work extra hours that should be paid overtime? Remind them that not only are their actions illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act (), but they may be held personally liable in a lawsuit.
That means their own assets are on the line, not just their employer’s.
Recent case: Victor worked in maintenance for an apartment complex. He complained that his supervisor, Jennifer, allegedly sexually harassed him by telling him she had been a stripper and rubbing her buttocks against his groin while he was trying to work.
When Victor was terminated, he sued, alleging sexual harassment. He also claimed that he had worked many hours that were unpaid, all under Jennifer’s watch. He added her to the lawsuit in her personal capacity.
Jennifer tried to have the charges dismissed, arguing she wasn’t Victor’s employer.
But the court disagreed, noting the expansive definition of who is an employer under the FLSA. It said that the economic reality was that Jennifer handled time sheets, disciplined employees, exercised control over Victor’s schedule and generally controlled his work. That made her an employer and personally liable for any overtime and other wage-and-hour violations.
While the sexual harassment allegations were dismissed because the court found conditions not severe enough to warrant a lawsuit, Victor will still get a trial on his pay dispute. (Arean v. Central Florida Investments, et al., No. 8:10-CV-2244, MD FL, 2012)