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Join the Overtime Lawsuit Attorney Ann Smith Has Filed On Behalf of MEA-Represented Employees

If the City paid you for overtime you worked in the past two years, it is likely the City underpaid you the overtime rate that was owed. Attorney Ann Smith and her law firm filed a lawsuit in federal court to pursue full payment on behalf of all MEA-represented employees who have a claim. MEA sent an e-mail to encourage you to read the materials to determine if you have a potential claim and, if you do, to request the paperwork from MEA, fill it out and return it promptly to protect your right to recover the money owed. MEA is also sending this information to your home address. Many of you have already taken action to complete and return the paperwork. More than 100 individual “consents” to join the action have already been filed and more are coming in to MEA daily for handling by Ann Smith’s firm.

Frequently Asked Questions. Some of you have asked these questions which may help you decide whether to take part in this lawsuit:

(1) Why do I need to bother – won’t the City just pay me what I’m owed without my having to join this lawsuit?

The City has known for months (or longer) that it was underpaying overtime by using the wrong overtime rate. The City sent an e-mail to employees on June 30, 2017, to say that it was “fixing” this underpayment effective July 1, 2017. But the City has said nothing about paying you what you are owed for underpayments in the past. With each day that passes, the City’s liability for past underpaid overtime is reduced because the statute of limitations on employees’ claims is running. Experience teaches that you cannot rationally count on the City paying you anything unless you take appropriate action to protect your rights. This is why Ann Smith’s firm has filed this case at MEA’s request to assure that every MEA-represented employee who has a claim has the opportunity to join this action to protect his or her rights to full payment. The federal law that is being enforced by this lawsuit – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – requires each individual employee who seeks proper payment to sign a consent to join the action. MEA can’t do it for YOU; other employees can’t do it for YOU. This requires YOUR individual action. Otherwise, you run the risk that you will not be paid at all for what is owed for the past – or that you will not be paid the full amount the law requires.

(2) Won’t my department’s management retaliate against me for “suing the City?”

First, the federal law being enforced – the FLSA – has very strict and explicit prohibitions against any form of retaliation when an employee enforces his or her right to the payment of proper wages and overtime – and the consequences for anyone in City management who retaliates in any way are severe. Second, more than a hundred employees have already joined the lawsuit and their consents are on file – with hundreds more eligible and expected to join the lawsuit. So this is not a case of a few employees who single themselves out to “management” by filing a lawsuit. Third, this is not an emotionally-charged type of case where individual managers are targeted or take offense. This is a case where the City’s policy on how to calculate overtime rates of pay has been wrong. No one manager is targeted – this is the City’s payment policy which was in error and needed to be changed with proper and timely guidance and advice from HR and the City Attorney’s Office. That’s where the “blame” lies – not with your management. Joining this lawsuit is a simple matter of ensuring you get the “right paycheck” for the work you do. The City underpaid you – plain and simple.

(3) If I join the lawsuit, how much work will I have to do to get my money?

Once you complete and return the simple paperwork required of you, your work is done. This case will be argued by lawyers – whether in writing or before the judge – and it will otherwise involve calculations related to your pay records. If there is any other information needed from you, it will be minimal and MEA will assist you with it. And . . . don’t worry about the short questionnaire you are asked to complete as part of the “consent” process. Many employees don’t know exactly how many FLSA-eligible overtime hours they have worked in the past 2-3 years. We are only asking for your estimate. Your actual pay records will ultimately provide the accurate information needed to determine what the City owes you. So don’t delay over the “estimating” step — it’s better to get your consent signed and in to MEA as long as you know that you worked and were paid overtime in the past 2-3 years.

(4) Does “comp time” count?

No – “comp time” does not raise the issue that the lawsuit addresses. For comp time, the “regular rate of pay” is never calculated, so there’s no possibility for the payroll errors that this lawsuit aims to correct. But, if the City “cashed” out your comp time account, in whole or in part, you do have a claim for the City’s underpayment of what was owed you in cash. Again, this is because the City used the wrong “regular rate of pay” when calculating your overtime rate, which did not give you proper credit for your “flex” benefits plan compensation.

Overtime Lawsuit Attachment