Overtime – Equitable Estoppel Issue (Overtime Case Where Former Employer Lies to Employees Informing Them That Everything the Company is Doing is Legal)
Recently, in April of 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan heard a case regarding unpaid FLSA overtime with the main issue being whether or not a former employee can sue his former employer for unpaid overtime 13 years after he worked performed the overtime work in that he did not sue earlier because he relied on his former boss’s statements that he had looked into everything and that he, the former boss, was paying his employees correctly and was not violating any FLSA or overtime laws. (See Rumpz v. American Drilling & Testing, Inc., 2010 WL 1416990 (E.D.Mich.)).
The facts are as follows: Plaintiff worked for Defendant as a driller from 1991 until 2009. From 1991 to 1996 the Defendant did not pay the Plaintiff overtime for waiting time, vehicle loading time or travel time between sites. Id. The Defendant’s owner told his employees that he had looked into the matter and that Defendant’s compensation policy complied with applicable laws. Based on these assertions that Plaintiff relied on, Plaintiff did not bring suit. Id. Plaintiff claims Defendant owner knew his actions were in violation of the law and only said what he said so that Plaintiff would not bring a legal action against him and his company. Id. (Thus if you worked for a company in the past and you think your boss lied to you, you should contact Louisville overtime lawyer Andrew S. Alitowski to help you with your case…It might not be too late to get the money back that you deserve.)
Beginning in 1996, Defendant began paying Plaintiff for waiting time, vehicle loading time and travel time. Id. But, the Defendant did not calculate this time for overtime. Id. Again, Defendant’s owner represented to the employees that what he was doing was fully compliant with applicable laws. Id. Again, Plaintiff refrained from suing in that he relied on Defendant’s statements. Id.
On March 16, 2009, Plaintiff, through his overtime lawyer, filed a FLSA overtime lawsuit against Defendant. Id. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss. Id. The Court denied the motion finding that any claims prior to the 3 years back (from March 16, 2006) might be time barred unless the statues of limitations were tolled. Id. That is, the Court “found that the doctrine of equitable estoppels could provide a basis to toll the status of limitation but that Rumpz had failed to plead facts necessary to establish such a defense.” Id. Thus, on November 11, 2009, Plaintiff amended his complaint to include an equitable estoppel claim. The Defense filed another motion to dismiss and this Court based on the following facts denied Defendant’s motion.
The Court first looked at the federal FLSA law. It cited what is and is not considered work payable for overtime. The Court determined that the work that Plaintiff did and alleges he was not paid for in his complaint was work that was compensable under the FLSA overtime laws.
The Court next looked at the question of equitable estoppel. “A court may employ equitable estoppel to toll the statue of limitations on a plaintiff’s cause of action when the defendant took some affirmative action to prevent the plaintiff from filing his claim in a timely manner.” Id.
There is a 5 part test the Sixth Circuit looks at to see if there is enough evidence to support a claim of equitable estoppel. Id. Though the Defendant has culpability if he or she makes false statements and takes an active step to prevent the Plaintiff from suing on time, the Plaintiff’s conduct is also considered and the Court will look at the Plaintiff’s reliance which must be reasonable and where he must “demonstrate that his ignorance is not attributable to a lack of due diligence.” (cites omitted). Id. Thus, based on Defendant’s proactive misrepresentations and the taking the well plead complaint as true, Defendant’s motion to dismiss the FLSA overtime claim was denied and Plaintiff was entitled to maintain a defense of equitable estoppel.
Thus, if you are a Louisville Overtime worker and have a question as to whether your case should become a class action lawsuit, contact a Louisville overtime lawyer. Mr. Alitowski, a Louisville overtime lawyer, can assist you and your co-workers in a failure to pay overtime lawsuit.
If you have been the subject of Louisville Overtime Non-payment of wages, please call and speak to a Louisville overtime Non-payment of wages lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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