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Lawsuit claims misclassification? It could become a costly class-action case

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

When one or two employees claim that they have not been paid overtime because they were improperly classified as exempt, they don’t need much evidence to turn the case into a class-action lawsuit.

That’s because classification decisions typically affect a group of individuals the same way, making class-action treatment more efficient than a series of individual lawsuits.

Recent case: Jerome’s job duties included maintaining and servicing oil and gas production facilities and overseeing testing and monitoring of wells, pumps, storage facilities and other pressure control equipment.

He was classified as exempt and earned a weekly salary, plus a day rate. He was not paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Jerome claimed he often worked more than 80 hours per week and sometimes more than 100 hours per week.

He sued, alleging he should have been classified nonexempt, and thus eligible for overtime pay. He requested class status for himself and all similarly situated workers.

The employer countered that Jerome’s case should be heard individually

The court disagreed, concluding that because the first question to be considered for each worker was whether they were properly classified as exempt, it would be more efficient to make that decision for the group rather than on a case-by-case basis.

The court ordered the lawsuit to proceed on behalf of all similarly situated employees. (Shaw v. Jaguar, SD TX, 2017).

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