ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Legal Newsline) - Former and current employees are suing the Board of County Commissioners of Bernalillo County, N.M., for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The plaintiffs are all current or former employees of the Board of County Commissioners of Bernalillo County, according to a complaint filed Oct. 15 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
The plaintiffs are suing on behalf of a proposed class of all current and former classification specialists who are or were employed by the defendant at the Metropolitan Detention Center, according to the suit.
"Plaintiffs bring suit to recover back pay, compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages as a result of defendant’s willful misclassification of them as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA and for defendant's failure to pay overtime wages as required by law," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs also seek declaratory and injunctive relief, in addition to damages."
The plaintiffs claim the defendant violated the FLSA and caused them damages.
The plaintiffs and other class members are or were employed by the defendant and did perform work for the defendant in the last three years, according to the suit.
"At various times during the past three years, plaintiffs were required to, or suffered or permitted to, work in excess of forty hours in a given workweek," the complaint states.
The plaintiffs claim because the defendant has improperly classified the plaintiffs and other class members as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA, the defendant has failed to pay those employees for any time in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, and has also failed to pay them the required overtime premium for that time.
"Plaintiffs and other employees are currently or formerly classified by defendant as 'exempt employees' under the FLSA and do not receive any additional pay or overtime premium for working hours in excess of forty in a given work week," the complaint states.
Plaintiffs and class members are not security personnel in a correctional institution and do not have responsibility for controlling and maintaining custody of inmates and of safeguarding them from other inmates or for supervising such functions, according to the suit. Rather, they are civilian employees of MDC.
The plaintiffs claim they do not have as a primary duty the management of MDC or any customarily recognized department or subdivision of MDC.
"Plaintiffs and class members do not customarily and regularly direct the work of two or more other employees," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs and class members do not have the authority to hire or fire other employees and their suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees are not given particular weight."
The defendant has incorrectly classified the plaintiffs and class members as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the defendant also employs community case managers, who perform substantially, if not entirely, the same case management duties as the plaintiffs, but for inmates on the Department of Substance Abuse Programs rather than in the MDC.
Despite performing the same job duties as the plaintiffs, community case managers are classified as non-exempt by the defendant and earn overtime for all hours worked in excess of forty in a given workweek, according to the suit.
"Plaintiffs have repeatedly tried over the past two years to have their positions reclassified as non-exempt," the complaint states. "Defendant has stonewalled plaintiffs’ efforts and has failed or refused to reclassify their position."
The defendant’s failure to properly classify and pay the plaintiffs was willful, as that term is used in the FLSA.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification and compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Shane C. Youtz, Stephen Curtice and James A. Montalbano of Youtz & Valdez PC.
The case is assigned to Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott.
U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico case number: 1:14-cv-00928
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.