Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Fun With Overtime

We've talked about overtime before, but all the working stiffs out there will probably be interested in THIS recent court ruling: Judge Allows Claims That School Knew Instructors Worked Overtime to Go to Jury A motorcycle repair school that allegedly knew instructors were working overtime but failed to provide overtime compensation may be liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act even though instructors never reported the hours, a federal court in Florida ruled June 15 (Fletcher v. Universal Technical Inst. Inc., M.D. Fla., No. 05-585, 6/15/06). Motorcycle Mechanics Institute--operated by Universal Technical Institute Inc.--may have had constructive notice that instructor Scott Fletcher was working overtime, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida found, denying summary judgment on liability for the employer. The issues of liability and damages are now headed to jury. "[A]n employer may not escape liability for uncompensated overtime work for which the employer has actual or constructive knowledge merely by prohibiting overtime labor, because an employer's 'mere promulgation of a rule against such work is not enough,' " Judge Presnell says, adding "[m]anagement has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so." This is similar to a situation at a large signator studio a few years back. Then, a layout artist on a feature was practically living at the studio. I mean, this guy was there nights, was there weekends. He didn't have a sleeping bag and Coleman stove in his office, but he could have. The company knew this guy was there all the time, and told him he should go home since the studio was NOT authorizing overtime. Trouble was, it knew he continued to work late on the premises, and it did nothing to stop him. Worse, it accepted the work that he did. So it was on the hook to pay him. Which it ultimately did, under the duress of a possible lawsuit.


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