Class action alleges Lowe's denied overtime pay to workers

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Feb. 13, 2008, 4:21am

William Hommel Jr.

MARSHALL -- As a Lowe's employee, Tammy Sue Rogers had to check out equipment, complete paperwork and perform other tasks before and after her shift in the warehouse. Rogers claims the home improvement store should pay her overtime for those activities and is suing Lowe's for violating labor standards.

Rogers is class representative in a class action complaint against Lowe's Home Center filed Feb. 11 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Rogers states that while employed as a warehouse worker at the Lowe's Regional Distribution Center in Mount Vernon, she was not compensated for performing "integral and essential" work-related tasks that included checking in her handheld computer, signing in, completing a safety checklist and other similar paperwork, checking out her other equipment, and driving to her work area.

Rogers contends that Lowe's violated Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring her to do these activities prior to her starting her scheduled shift and after the end of her shift.

"Defendant has willfully engaged in a pattern, practice, and policy of unlawful conduct by failing to pay the lawful and required regular and/or overtime rate for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week to employees in the United States in violation of FLSA statutes," the complaint argues.

The plaintiff's original complaint seeks inclusion of other potential unnamed plaintiffs who have also been denied overtime pay because of "defendant's failure to properly count hours."

The lawsuit is seeking damages for unpaid regular and overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and post-judgment interest.

Tyler attorney William S. Hommel, Jr. is representing Rogers in her allegations.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham for proceedings.

Lowe's, the world's second largest home improvement retailer, is already fighting a similar suit filed by named plaintiffs Eric Seivley and Teresa Taylor on Sept. 12, 2006, in the Marshall Division. That action argues that Lowe's required the plaintiffs to complete more work than their work schedules allowed. The suit states that if the employees did not finish their assignments, they would "clock out but continue to work off the clock" until the work was completed.

The suit seeks class certification to include all current and former Texas Lowe's employees employed from Dec. 23, 2002, to present. Plaintiffs are seeking damages for overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney's fees and costs, pre and post-judgment interest.

Currently the suit is in discovery stages but in active since June 2007. Longview attorneys John D. Sloan Jr. and Laureen F. Bagley of Sloan, Bagley and Perry Law Firm are representing the plaintiffs.

Lowe's denies the plaintiffs' allegations and states it is in full compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In addition to the Texas cases, the home improvement store is involved in similar suits alleging violations of FLSA including cases in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, Rhode Island, Florida, West Virginia, Minnesota, California, and South Carolina.

Case No.: 2:08cv00053

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