Court awards OT damages to Five Star Automatic Protection workers

Companies commonly violate the FLSA by failing to pay employees for pre-shift work and/or travel time. A case from the Western District of Texas illustrates these issues.  Following a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, a federal judge in El Paso has awarded damages to current and former employees of Five Star Fire Protection, LLC.  Following a bench trial, the court found that Five Star did not compensate its employees for pre-shift work from 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., and for travel time from the worksite back to Five Star after 3:30 p.m. The Court also found that Five Star failed to keep accurate records of off-the-clock time that its employees worked. 

The Court accepted the DOL’s computation of damages for uncompensated time and found that Five Star had not met its burden to overcome liquidated damages. The Court found that Five Star was liable for $121,687.37 for unpaid backwages, (2) $121,687.37 in liquidated damages, and (3) $2604.35 for face-of-the record violations. The Court noted that “In cases involving multiple workers, not all workers need to testify. Estimates may come from representative testimony, and the ‘[t]estimony of some employees concerning the hours worked by groups of non-testifying employees is sufficient if those who do testify have personal knowledge of the work performed by those who do not.’” On the liquidated damages issue, the Court found that a supervisor “implemented and enforced a policy that forbade employees from including on their timesheets the pre-shift and post-shift time at issue. The evidence reflects he disseminated the policy directly to Five Star employees, and also through Five Star foremen who taught new employees how to generate their timesheets.” Thus, the Court rejected Five Star’s good faith defense, leading to the imposition of liquidated damages.  

About the author: Josh Borsellino represents workers suing for unpaid overtime.  If you have questions about whether you are entitled to overtime pay, call an experienced wage and hour attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights.  For a free consultation, call Josh at 817.908.9861 or complete this form.  

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