A federal judge has agreed to a settlement between the parties in a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) collective action where a group of former employees sued the employer, a cement company, for overtime. The case, filed in federal court in Florida, is entitled Webster v. Cemex Inc.
Interestingly, the lead plaintiff, Timothy Webster, will recover only $2,600. Payments to the other class members have not been disclosed. The basis of the suit was that the Company paid the drivers by the delivery and did not pay overtime when the actual work hours exceeded forty (40). The plaintiffs sought compensation for unpaid overtime for three years (seeking a willfulness finding) as well as liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.
Although the Company asserted it had strong defenses against the claim, it settled this case, which had been consolidated with a second FLSA action against Cemex; that action was also lodged by drivers.
The issue comes back to exemption status. If the drivers were non-exempt, they were entitled to overtime when they worked more than forty hours. There is a computational formula built into the FLSA for determining how to compute overtime to workers paid by the delivery, or by the “stop” or on a commission basis, or a day rate, or any other form of compensation. Ultimately, the employer must figure out the regular rate and then determine the overtime.
These drivers might or might not have fit within the motor carrier exemption, but likely no other exemption, certainly not the white collar exemptions as they were not paid a salary. The lesson for employers is simple----absent an applicable exemption, all workers are entitled to overtime, regardless of the applicable computational methodology.