Texas Appeals Court Remands Overtime Pay Lawsuit After Appeal

Texas Appeals Court Remands Overtime Pay Lawsuit After Appeal

AUSTIN — A Texas appeals court recently overturned a defendant’s motion for summary judgement and remanded the case to state district court after ruling that the lower court erred in its dismissal of an unpaid overtime lawsuit that included allegations the defendant retaliated against the plaintiff. In its ruling, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District determined changes to overtime policies following an employee complaint for unpaid wages may be considered as a materially adverse employment action and used to prove anti-retaliation claims under federal labor laws.

The case began in January 2013 when the plaintiff filed suit against the Alief Independent School District alleging several labor and wage violations, including unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A lower court judge initially dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims in a motion for summary judgement, a legal maneuver commonly employed by defendants to end legal proceedings.

According to the plaintiff, after she filed the claim, her employer drafted a memo informing the plaintiff she would no longer be able to work overtime hours unless specifically asked to do so by certain individuals named in the letter. The Texas Court of Appeals examined the situation, holding the company’s change in overtime policy may have violated anti-retaliation provisions of the FLSA as a reasonable employee may feel the new policy would dissuade any engagement in such a protected activity.

While employers may be able to implement general overtime pay policies requiring workers to obtain supervisory approval prior to working overtime, or face discipline, the enforcement must be consistent. Unfortunately, many employers retaliate against workers alleging wage and labor law violations, causing undue hardship for exercising their legal rights.

The case now heads back down to the lower court for consideration on the merits of the FLSA overtime and retaliation lawsuit. While the case is far from resolved, the appeals court ruling may eventually compel the defendant to appropriately compensate the plaintiff for her back pay and retaliation claim.

School District Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit

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