September 2000 Legal Update

LEGAL UPDATE
By: Louis D. Stober, Jr., Esq.
CSEA REGIONAL ATTORNEY

COUNTY SETTLES FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT LAWSUIT

I recently settled a bitterly contested lawsuit for CSEA concerning our contention that the County violated the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when it deferred payment of certain categories of employees' overtime.

In a nutshell, I fought for you by arguing that §28-5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement violated the FLSA's prohibition on the deferral or non-payment of FLSA qualifying overtime.

The FLSA provides an extremely complicated formula for determining what overtime qualifies as FLSA overtime which cannot be deferred. In essence, it has to be hours in excess of 40, worked on shift differential all week with no time off for sick, vacation or any other leave entitlements. Of course this is an oversimplistic synopsis and there are a multitude of other variables affecting the final number.

The settlement calls for the payment of $450 to each individually named plaintiff (over 980 in all) who forwards a properly signed release to my office. So look for my envelope in your mail over the next few weeks, sign the enclosed release as instructed and return it to my office immediately.

Each plaintiff has two weeks from when I mail the release to him or her to return same to me. If I receive no response then one more release will be mailed via certified mail return receipt requested to the last known address of that plaintiff on file with CSEA. If no response is received within three weeks of mailing the second release then one last attempt to contact the individual plaintiff will be made by publication of the plaintiff's name in this newspaper.

If there is still no signed release, the unresponsive plaintiff will be deemed to have accepted the settlement. $450 will be held in escrow by me for said unresponsive plaintiff for three months after receipt of the settlement monies from the County. If, after three months, the money is still unclaimed, it will be redistributed amongst the other CSEA plaintiffs.

If any plaintiff refuses to settle, the agreement to settle by a majority of the plaintiffs will be deemed a settlement by all.

This settlement is also subject to approval by the Nassau County Legislature. The County must pay all the monies under the settlement by May 11, 2001. The terms of this settlement were accepted and "So Ordered" by Federal District Court Judge Leonard Wexler on July 11, 2000.

I am gratified to announce this hard fought and well-earned settlement to you the members of CSEA. CSEA warned the County to be careful how it deferred overtime back in 1994 and now the consequences of those actions are being felt. So remember, if you are one of the 980 plaintiffs who are named in the suit, you will be receiving a letter from me in the mail enclosing a copy of the settlement and a release. You must sign and return the release to me immediately so that I can process payment of your $450.

Once again, the CSEA legal assistance program has come to the aid of you, the member, protecting your rights.