MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit has been filed against the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which is one of Alabama's busiest tourist attractions, by current and former employees who allege it did not pay them for state holidays.
Three current and former employees are suing the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Brooke Balch and Vickie Henderson after they claim it owes them back pay for extra income they earned for working state holidays.
Janice Ingalls, Milton Parker and Kamara Bowling Davis claim they were not paid for state holidays, as required by state law, according to a complaint filed July 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
The plaintiffs claim until they read a report issued Jan. 17 by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts regarding the defendants' practices with regard to underpaying employee benefits, they never knew that the defendants had failed to follow Alabama law with regard to longevity pay or state holidays.
During their employments, the plaintiffs were not paid for state holidays or longevity pay as required by state law, according to the suit.
"The Defendants have systematically failed to pay benefits that were due under Alabama law to current and former employees of the USS&RC and did not disclose to [the] class members that they were failing to do so," the complaint states. "Furthermore, the defendants have failed to remedy their unlawful practices even in light of the report and mandate issued by the department as a result of its examination."
The plaintiffs claim as a consequence, the defendants have improperly retained unpaid benefits which should be rightfully in the hands of USS&RC employees.
The defendants' plan, scheme and common course of conduct was applicable to all current and former full-time, part-time and seasonal employees of the USS&RC, according to the suit.
"Until recently, [the] plaintiffs and class members did not know and could not reasonably have known that they were not paid in accordance with Alabama law," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs claim although the decisions to fail to follow Alabama law with regard to payment of state holiday and longevity pay and to conceal these unlawful practices were made in the past, the defendants continue to act in accordance with and in furtherance of the unlawful practices as set forth herein.
The defendants also continue their practice of failing to follow Alabama law and concealing their unlawful activity, according to the suit.
"Throughout this time period, the defendants have not disclosed their activities against [the] Plaintiffs and class members in a way that [the] plaintiffs and/or class members could have discovered the unlawful activity," the complaint states. "In fact, the defendants have taken a number of actions to conceal their practices from USS&RC employees so that their practices were not discovered."
The vast majority of the members of the class still do not know that they have been injured, and they continue to be injured, by the defendants' unlawful conduct, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claims the defendants' unlawful conduct is continuing in nature.
"The statute of limitations applicable to any claims which [the] plaintiffs or other class members have brought or could bring as a result of the unlawful and fraudulent concealment and course of conduct described herein has been tolled as a result of the defendants' fraudulent concealment," the complaint states. "In addition, [the] plaintiffs and the class did not and could not have discovered their causes of action until the time alleged herein, thereby tolling any applicable statute of limitations."
The plaintiffs claim the center has disregarded the state's observed paid holidays, including Robert E. Lee's birthday, Confederate Memorial Day and George Washington's Birthday, among others state holidays.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification and compensatory damages. They are being represented by R. Brent Irby of McCallum, Hoaglund, Cook & Irby LLP; and Eric James Artrip of Watson McKinney & Artrip LLP.
The case has been assigned to District Judge Mark Fuller.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama case number: 2:14-cv-00699
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.