A plaintiff sued his former employer, HT Airsystems of Florida, on allegations that he routinely worked 50 to 60 hours per week but did not receive overtime pay. He also claimed the organization failed to keep and maintain accurate records of his work hours.
The plaintiff worked as an air conditioning service technician for the organization from April 16, 2018 until he was terminated on April 21, 2020.
In October 2019, the employer allegedly started designating all new hires for the service technician position as non-exempt. However, service technicians who were existing employees, including the plaintiff, remained designated as exempt. The plaintiff alleges he was a non-exempt employee and was misclassified.
According to the complaint, in December 2019, the plaintiff emailed his manager to express his concern that he was not being paid overtime. On several other occasions, he asked about overtime owed to him.
The following month, human resources managers, the organization's general manager and president, and their immediate supervisor allegedly met with the wrongly-designated service technicians, including the plaintiff. At the meeting, the employees were purportedly told they would be paid on an hourly basis starting on May 1, 2020. During the meeting, the plaintiff claims to have complained about not receiving overtime pay, and the managers told him they would investigate the issue and get back to him.
On April 1, 2020, the plaintiff emailed his managers and supervisors to inquire about the new pay system. He also complained about having to work in the field without personal protective equipment (PPE).
According to the lawsuit, approximately three weeks later, the employer terminated the plaintiff without giving a reason for the termination. The plaintiff alleged that he was retaliated against for complaining about overtime pay and not receiving PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida's Whistleblower Act (FWA). Complaining about pay is a protected activity under the FLSA. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of PPE when necessary due to job hazards.
The plaintiff sought damages including unpaid overtime, back pay, front pay, liquidated damages, declaratory relief, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages. The case settled in December of 2020. Macke v. HT Airsystems of Florida, LLC. (Dist.Ct.M.D.FL) (Case No. 6:20-cv-00787)(May 06, 2020).