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Court gives workers 2nd chance on FLSA suit

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

A federal court considering an overtime dispute recently dismissed the lawsuit because it didn’t include enough details—but then told the workers they could file an amended complaint addressing the deficiencies.

Recent case: Mark was a nurse at a Houston-area medical facility, the Regency Village Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center.

He sought to file a lawsuit representing a collective class of nurses with whom he claimed he regularly worked 12-hour shifts and more than 40 hours per week. The nurses, Mark claimed, were automatically clocked out for a one-hour meal break every 12-hour shift. However, he said, they seldom took that break. In fact, Mark alleged the employer expected the nurses to work through their meal period. This, he alleged, was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The nursing home asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that Mark had not presented enough factual allegations to show the employer was subject to the FLSA. Reason: The complaint was silent on whether the facility either engaged in interstate commerce or was an enterprise with annual gross sales of more than $500,000.

The court agreed with the employer and dismissed the case, but said Mark could refile with more facts to show either that the facility was engaged in interstate commerce or had the requisite sales. (Ridley v. Penbar, SD TX, 2018)

Final note: It won’t take much for Mark to amend the lawsuit to show the FLSA applies. It’s hard to conceive of a nursing facility with less than $500,000 in sales or that does not affect interstate commerce in some way. Your attorneys should always point out deficiencies in employee lawsuits and request dismissal. However, don’t expect every granted summary judgment to end the case.

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