NEW ORLEANS — A former longtime aide to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is seeking a settlement with his former employer over charges he was racially discriminated against and forced to work more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay, according to The Advocate.
The two sides met in early April to begin talks over the federal lawsuit filed in November 2015.
A federal magistrate recently hosted attorneys for Benson and Benson’s former personal assistant, Rodney Henry, in settlement talks to help resolve the conflict.
The federal judge overseeing the case ruled the case to go through arbitration per NFL employment rules, possibly setting the case up for a protracted legal battle should the two sides be unable to reach an agreement.
Henry claims he was paid $50,000 a year for his services which frequently required him working up to 16-hours a day to perform tasks for Benson such as going to the bank, picking up prescriptions and other errands. Benson’s assistant was a salaried employee, a classification which would make him exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Employee Misclassification as Manager Under FLSA
The FLSA has strict interpretations of what constitutes an overtime exempt employee. One class of which is manager, but the worker must meet certain criteria to meet this classification including exercising control over hiring and firing of employees.
The plaintiff contends that because he was not in a managerial position he was misclassified as an overtime exempt employee and therefore owed years of back overtime pay. Furthermore, the plaintiff in this case alleges in-house paperwork revealed he was part of a group of employees that should have been paid overtime.
The lawsuit is even more complicated, alleging breach of contract against Benson. The plaintiff’s attorney claims his client’s employment contract states he is owed severance pay of twice his annual salary in the event he were fired by anyone except Benson. The plaintiff was allegedly fired by Benson’s wife for bringing a grievance with the team’s human resource department over racially charged comments made by Mrs. Benson.
Were You Misclassified as an Overtime Exempt Employee?
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Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.