Two former Children, Youth, and Families Department employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the New Mexico agency, alleging that federal law has been violated by the department because it failed to pay overtime appropriately.
Plaintiffs Allege State Department Willfully Violated The FLSA
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938 and is a set of federal laws that outlines the rights of workers in the United States. One of those rights is overtime pay.
According to the FLSA, workers must be paid 1 1/2 times their normal hourly rate for all hours worked after 40 hours in a week. There are some exceptions to this law, however, the vast majority of employees can earn overtime.
In this latest unpaid overtime lawsuit, the plaintiffs have filed on behalf of juvenile corrections officer supervisors. They claim that each worker was paid hourly and although they were paid for the hours they worked over 40 hours, they were only paid their regular hourly rate. The plaintiffs stated that they worked “tens of hours of overtime” each week. They are fighting for unpaid overtime, attorney’s fees, and additional damages.
It is possible that other former employees could join this legal complaint.
The plaintiffs and the department have not stated if the plaintiffs still work for the state agency.
Can Employees Sue While Still Working For An Employer That Isn’t Paying Overtime?
Yes, employees have the right to take legal action at any time against their employer if they find that their employer is failing to pay proper wages. However, keep in mind that you may lose your job if you file a legal complaint against your employer.
While there are protections prevent an employer from firing an employee who has sued for unpaid wages, the reality is that many employers will then fight to find a reason to terminate employment. That being said, if it can be shown that your position was terminated because of the lawsuit, you could be able to file an additional complaint, called a retaliation discrimination lawsuit.
In order to prove that you are eligible to file a retaliation discrimination lawsuit, you will have to prove the following:
- You witnessed or experienced illegal discrimination;
- You chose to engage in protected activity (like filing an unpaid overtime lawsuit);
- Your employer reacted by taking adverse action against you;
- You suffered damages because of the adverse action.
What Are Damages?
Damages are the losses that a plaintiff has sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions or lack of action. In unpaid overtime lawsuits and retaliation discrimination lawsuits, damages typically include lost wages, lost benefits, and emotional trauma.
Our experienced attorneys can help you determine what the damages have been in your case and what you could be owed.
Will I Need To Testify In Court If I File A Lawsuit?
It is possible that you will need to testify in court if you choose to take legal action. Lawsuits can end with either a settlement or a verdict. Settlements are made outside of a courtroom but verdicts are obtained after battling in a courtroom.
Even though the vast majority of lawsuits end with a settlement, our experienced legal team prepares each case as though it will end up in a courtroom. This includes preparing our clients for the experience. We will be with you and your loved ones, each step of the way.
How Long Will It Take To Recover Compensation?
It’s no secret that the legal process can take time. This should never cause you to hesitate when making the choice to pursue justice, however, because the majority of this time is spent on collecting the evidence needed to prove the claim being made. Although it may take months or more than a year to recover compensation, legal action is likely the only way that you will be able to recover compensation at all.