East Texas woman sues Wal-Mart over unpaid overtime

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jul. 30, 2009, 8:33am

John Morgan

LUFKIN – Asking for more than $100,000 in unpaid overtime wages, Pam Gellhaus has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart, alleging the company violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit was filed on July 21 in the Lufkin Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Gellhaus alleges that Wal-Mart violated federal regulations by having its non-exempt hourly employees engage in overtime work without paying the federally required overtime pay.

Although the plaintiff filed the lawsuit individually, she is asking for the court to order the case an "opt-in" class action for all overtime wages due and owing to Wal-Mart employees who are similarly situated.

The plaintiff is asking the court to toll the statute of limitations arguing Wal-Mart continues to violate the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

"Due to the willful violations of the Defendant, Plaintiffs, individually, and as a class, seek to recover all statutory enhancements authorized under federal law, as well as to toll the statute of limitations to class members due to Defendant's willful violations of the FLSA," the complaint states.

Gellhaus is seeking damages for unpaid overtime wages, attorney fees, statutory penalties, pre and post- judgment interest and exemplary damages.

Beaumont attorney John S. Morgan of Harris, Duesler and Hatfield LLP is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark will preside over the litigation.

With similar class actions being filed across the country, Wal-Mart is facing the possibility of paying a substantial amount of back overtime pay and related government fines.

In January, Wal-Mart agreed to settle 63 class actions, which could require the retail giant to pay up to $640 million.

In early July, a Minnesota judge ruled that the company owes $6.5 million to former employees for violations like failing to give workers their full rest breaks or requiring the employees to work off the clock during training.

Under Minnesota regulations, Wal-Mart could be fined up to $1,000 for each violation. With more than two million violations, the company could face $2 billion in fines.

Case No 9:09cv00118

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