Wage, hour and overtime lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that AAI Corp, the aerospace and defence development and manufacturing firm, may be facing a class-action lawsuit for failing to pay overtime wages. Plaintiffs allege the company has a policy of not paying overtime wages to its pilots and field service engineers.
The Baltimore Business Journal recently reported that two men from California are at the forefront of the suit against AAI, which is a subsidiary of Textron Systems. The two men filed the lawsuit in Baltimore, claiming AAI wrongly classified them as contractors, therefore disqualifying them from receiving overtime wages.
One man, John Keenon, is a former extended range multi-purpose program (ERMP) pilot, leaving AAI in 2012. The co-plaintiff, Eric Trembly, is still employed by AAI, also as an ERMP pilot. Last year, in 2012, AAI settled three separate similar wage and hour lawsuits in Baltimore, Washington State, and Alaska. These settlements totaled more than $1.6 million in compensation to those employees.
The Baltimore case stemmed from similar allegations of failing to pay overtime wages, this time to field service engineers who maintained and repaired AAI unmanned surveillance aircrafts (more commonly referred to as drones). AAI field service engineers repair surveillance aircrafts at military sites around the world, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The plaintiffs in this case allege AAI did not pay them the legally required "time and a half" for the time they worked beyond 40 hours in a week, which directly violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They claim their supervisors knew about the unpaid overtime, as well as the unpaid time for travel, work assignments, and for working more than 12 hours in one day.
The most recent case involves the pilots of these drones, who undertake the operation of ground control systems. These employees believe they were improperly classified as exempt to collecting overtime.
The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for their lawsuit, which gives both current and former AAI employees the opportunity to sue if they also feel they have been unfairly classified. These employees may be able to share in any compensation.
Meanwhile in New Jersey, a group of police officers are also seeking to bring a class-action lawsuit against the city of East Orange. Like the AAI employees, the officers claim they are owed compensation for unpaid overtime, dating back to September 2009. So far 21 officers have joined the potential FSLA class-action.
Several officers from East Orange allege that the police department fails to keep accurate records of officers' working hours, which violates the FSLA's timekeeping requirements. Officers not only in New Jersey but throughout the country are often required to stay late to finish police reports and come in early to review and analyze crime data.
Requiring officers to begin work prior to the start of their shift and continue working after it ends, and not paying them for this time, is against the law. Some East Orange officers complained of the illegal practice to their supervisors, however, most simply tolerated it for fear of retaliation. Plaintiffs allege that they were indeed subject to discipline if they did not report to work at least ten minutes prior to the start of their shift.
One plaintiff estimates that, since September 2009, he worked more than 400 hours of overtime, none of which he was compensated for. City officials are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, citing contract terms. Plaintiffs maintained that FLSA law supersedes negotiated contract terms.
Wage, hour and overtime lawyers at Pintas & Mullins will continue to report on significant FLSA lawsuits, verdicts, and settlements. If you or a loved one is being unfairly or illegal treated by your employer, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation in back wages.