Just when the New York Mets thought that things couldn’t get any worse for them this season, they get “hit” with a class action lawsuit for allegedly failing to pay Citi Field security guards overtime. The plaintiffs, Errol K. Roberts and David N. Vernod, allege that Citi Field security guards regularly work 40 hours a week, plus 6 hours of overtime for each Mets’ home game, but do not receive time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week.
Specifically, the plaintiffs claim that the Mets pay security guards $17.00 per hour and provide them with a flat rate of $102.00 for each home game they work. However, this flat rate only covers their regular hourly rate and does not factor in premium overtime pay. The security guards are seeking an injunction, unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys fees. The case is entitled Errol K. Roberts, et al. v. Sterling Mets LP and was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Much like their infield this year, the Mets’ defense appears weak. Notably, security guards are generally not exempt employees, and the Mets certainly do not appear to treat the Citi Field security guards as exempt. In particular, the security guards are paid by the hour, not a salary, and they receive a set lump sum when they work extra hours. The Mets could argue that the lump sum payment for home games represents overtime pay. However, under the federal regulations, this arrangement is only valid where there is a signed writing between the employee and the employer to this effect. It is not clear whether such a written agreement exists.
Based on the allegations in the Complaint, it is unlikely that the Mets will be able to put up much of a fight in this case. My advice to the franchise on how to comply with the law under their current pay structure for security guards --- hope for rain.