Lear Werts successfully represented corrections officers in a class action lawsuit against a County Jail. The County Jail did not properly compensate the jailers for all hours worked , which in turn, denied them their earned wages and overtime compensation in direct violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.
Specifically, this case alleged that until early 2019, employees of the Greene County Jail who were classified as non-exempt correctional officers, with a rank below sergeant, were paid based on their scheduled shift without proper regard to the hours they actually worked. These jailers received an automatic 50-minute meal break deduction from their recorded time for every shift regardless of the meal break actually taken. Additionally, jailers had to attend pre-shift briefings and were often required to perform tasks for the jail after the end of their scheduled shifts. However, in most instances, jailers’ pay was limited to their schedule.
Under the FLSA and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law, an employer is responsible for paying for all time spent primarily for the benefit of the employer. And an employer is only allowed to stop counting time during a meal break when the employee is completely released from work-responsibilities for at least 20 minutes. Requiring jailers to be available to respond to emergency calls at all times while on-shift, even during meal breaks, makes that time compensable. And employers should not make automatic deductions from an employee’s time records for such breaks.
Law enforcement workers are often denied overtime due to problems related to their employers’ timekeeping practices. Here, Lear Werts successfully recovered a six-figure settlement to reimburse the jailers for the County’s error.