So, sometimes you take a “little” case on principle, and the outcome turns out to be better than you expect! In April 2009, we filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court to obtain about seven thousand dollars in overtime wages under the Maryland Wage Collection Law that a small construction company failed to pay to our client. In a nutshell, the company required our client to come to the corporate office, pick up his assignments and supplies and tools, and then travel from worksite to worksite, but only paid him for the time he spent working at each worksite. After much delay and several attempts to have the case thrown out of court, we went to trial before Judge Bollinger in September 2010, and in October 2010 he issued an opinion ruling in our favor. Well, it took awhile, but yesterday we received his decision awarding nearly $8,000 in overtime wages to our client, and awarding us more than $18,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs! Now, of course, we have to try to collect the monies, but it still feels like a sweet victory!
A quick lesson from a wage and overtime case that I just settled earlier this month — if your employer asks you to undertake a task that benefits the employer, then the employer may be required to pay you for that task. In this case, my client drove a truck for a national healthcare services corporation delivering medical supplies to patients at their homes. Each morning, however, his employer required him to drive his car to a warehouse to pick up the truck, make sure it was loaded with medical supplies, and then drive it to the employer’s office, where he would receive his daily delivery schedule. The employer only paid my client from the time he checked in at the employer’s office until the time he left the last patient’s house. The employer did not believe that my client was entitled to be paid for the “travel time” incurred driving the truck from the warehouse to the office, but several courts that have considered similar factual scenarios have held that such time is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Fortunately, we were able to resolve the matter without the need for litigation, and my client received a favorable settlement.