A Texas-based construction company is facing allegations of wage theft in a recently revived class action lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2014. The case was dismissed when the District Court granted a summary motion in favor of the company, but successfully appealed and reinstated in the spring of 2019. Employees and former employees of Troy Construction, LLC are now presenting their case that the company denied them overtime pay by improperly classifying some of their wages.
Troy operates numerous worksites in Pennsylvania where it constructs and maintains oil and gas pipelines and compressor stations. In the course of their duties, employees may have to travel long distances to these worksites, so the company provides a travel per diem to all of their hourly employees. The per diem is intended to reimburse expenses such as food and lodging incurred while traveling, but for employees who live close to the worksites, there were no expenses to reimburse. To avoid any issues with reporting the per diems, the company counted them as taxable income for those classified as local employees.
While this may have corrected one problem with their accounting, it created another one by substantially increasing the local employees’ taxable wages. When employees worked more than 40 hours and were paid overtime, their overtime rate was then calculated based on their regular hourly wage rather than the increased wage. The lead plaintiff and other employees filed suit, claiming that they should have been received a higher overtime rate that corresponded with the full amount of their taxable income. The complaints allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.
Case Almost Thrown Out Due to Filing Schedule
The summary motion was initially granted due to arguments surrounding the timing of the filing. The plaintiff filed a conditional certification of the class in December of 2015, with many class members declaring in writing their intent to join the class, but the consent-to-sue was not filed until March of 2016. An FLSA claim has a statute of limitations of two years from when the cause of action accrued, of three years in cases where there was a willful violation of the FLSA.
The District Court denied the plaintiff’s claim that the conditional certification should be considered consent to sue and cited the two-year statute of limitations as the potential violation was not considered willful. The Court of Appeals overturned this ruling, concluding that the District Court’s definition of willful behavior went above and beyond existing precedents, and allowed the case to proceed, as it was filed within the three-year statute of limitations.
Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Harty Law Group Provide Experienced Representation in Class Action Suits
Class action lawsuits can be extremely complicated and have numerous pitfalls that can derail a case. The Philadelphia business lawyers at Harty Law Group have successfully navigated the complexities of all types of class action cases. We have the knowledge and resources to get the best possible outcome for the plaintiffs and all members of the class who have suffered similarly. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 267-383-3899 or contact us online to discuss your case with a Philadelphia class action lawyer.