Employer can't dodge claim that it promised employee a house in lieu of pay
- An employee can proceed with her wage and hour lawsuit alleging that her employer failed to pay her for years, instead promising her a home (Lopez v. Carl Edwards, individually and Casper Trailer Sales, Inc., No. 17-cv-00045 (D. Colo., May 15, 2018)).
- Stephanie Lopez sued Casper Trailer Sales Inc., doing business as JDL Trailer Sales. Lopez said she worked without cash wages from 2009 until 2015, relying on the owner's promise to transfer a title to a home to her in exchange for work. Lopez said sometimes worked 10 hours per day and up to 70 hours per week, sometimes receiving room and board.
- Asking the court to dismiss her claims, the employer argued that Lopez wasn't an employee until 2015, and also that it paid her for all hours worked. The court, however, denied that request, saying that available employment documents amounted to "significant probative evidence that may support a finding that Plaintiff was denied wages and thus, is entitled to a verdict in her favor."
There are some rights that employees can waive, but compensation required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) isn’t one of them. All employees must be paid in accordance with that law and for non-exempt employees, that means minimum wage and overtime.
The FLSA recognizes the public benefits of volunteering and allows individuals to freely volunteer in many circumstances for charitable and public purposes, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Fact Sheet #14A: Non-Profit Organizations and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But employees cannot volunteer to provide the same type of services that they are employed to provide, even when the employer is a non-profit. In an opinion letter, DOL offered the following example: a school bus driver could volunteer to coach the school's basketball team, but could not volunteer to drive the basketball team to games.
HR must ensure that all workers are properly categorized, making it vital to have a good understanding of everyone who is performing work for your organization — from employees to volunteers to independent contractors.
- U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Lopez v. Carl Edwards, individually and Casper Trailer Sales, Inc. a Colorado corporation