A former employee of a Philadelphia catering company has filed a class action suit
accusing the company of avoiding the payment of overtime to the staff by altering the hours worked by eligible employees.
William Pew filed the suit at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of 70 employees of Finley Catering Co., Inc., which serves events held at various locations throughout the city, including the Crystal Tea Room, the Ballroom at the Ben, Union Trust and the Clothier Room. The complaint alleges that Finley violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) and seeks damages in the form of unpaid wages and coverage of court costs.
According to the complaint, Pew worked for Finley between 2010 and 2014 as one of 70 employees earning an hourly wage performing food preparation and other kitchen work. The nature of the catering business meant that some weeks could become much busier than other weeks. An employee could work fewer than 40 hours one week and at least 50 another.
The complaint alleges that the management at Finley would not properly record the overtime hours for the weeks that employees worked longer than 40 hours. Instead, the overage is credited for a future week when an employee might clock in fewer than 40 hours.
"For example, under this payment scheme," the complaint says, "if an employee works 47 hours during a particular week, he is paid for 40 hours. Then, if the employee only works 24 hours during a subsequent week, he might be paid for 31 hours."
Those 31 hours were paid at the employee's regular hourly rate. The claim says this practice violated the FLSA and PMWA by not compensating the staff at the required overtime rate of time-and-a-half, or 150 percent.
"This rule is well-established, and defendant's failure to comply with the rule constitutes willful conduct undertaken in reckless disregard of the FLSA," the complaint says.
The plaintiff is represented by Peter Winebrake, of Winebrake & Santillo in Dresher, Pa.
The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-04246-JS.