HOUSTON (Legal Newsline) - A deputy sheriff filed a class action lawsuit in Houston federal court against Austin County and Sheriff Jack W. Brandes, claiming they violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.




Austin County allegedly violated the FLSA by employing Cox and other similarly situated nonexempt employees "for a workweek longer than forty hours [but refusing to compensate them] for [their] employment in excess of [forty] hours…at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which [they are or were] employed."








Ernest Cox claims Austin County employed him as a deputy sheriff from October 2012, where he continues to remain, according to a complaint filed Oct. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.




Cox claims Austin County pays him on an hourly basis, and, in addition to his base hourly rate, he received additional remuneration for seniority, longevity, training, professional certifications and education, among other things.




"During Cox’s employment with Austin County, he regularly worked in excess of forty hours per week," the complaint states. "Austin County knew or reasonably should have known that Cox worked in excess of forty hours per week."




Austin County did not pay Cox overtime "at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he [was] employed," according to the suit.




Cox claims Austin County paid him at his straight time rate, or nothing at all, for some of the hours he worked over 40.




"Additionally, Austin County failed to count some of the hours worked by Cox towards its obligation to pay overtime," the complaint states. "Lastly, Austin County failed to include the additional remuneration that Cox received for seniority, longevity, training, professional certifications, education, etc. in his regular, which ultimately resulted in an artificially low overtime rate."




Austin County knew or reasonably should have known that Cox was not exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the suit.




Cox claims Austin County failed to maintain accurate time and pay records for Cox and other similarly situated nonexempt employees as required by the FLSA.




"Austin County knew or showed a reckless disregard for whether its pay practices violated the FLSA," the complaint states.




The class includes deputy sheriffs employed by Austin County who have similar job duties; regularly work in excess of 40 hours per week; are not paid overtime for the hours they worked in excess of 40 per week; and are entitled to recover their unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees and costs from Austin County, according to the suit.




Cox claims the defendants failed to maintain accurate records and failed to pay overtime pay.




Cox is seeking class certification and compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Melissa Moore and Curt Hesse of Moore & Associates.




U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-cv-03122




From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.


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