Anyone who was in New York or New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy can easily recall the devastation that resulted in the loss of homes and historical landmarks. In the storm’s aftermath, millions of New York and New Jersey residents sat in the dark eagerly waiting for power companies to turn the lights back on. Though many were disappointed by National Grid’s seemingly slowed response to the emergency, hundreds of Brooklyn workers labored through 60-80 hour workweeks to get the city up and running again. In turn, many of these workers were shocked and disappointed to receive paychecks with less, in some cases far less, than they had lawfully earned.
In November, the Brooklyn workers filed a class action lawsuit against National Grid for its failure to pay minimum and overtime wages. The case, Conigliaro et al v. National Grid, was filed in the New York Eastern District on behalf of Brooklyn workers by Local 101 Transport Workers Union of America President, Michael Conigliaro. Under FLSA provisions, employers must pay employees one-and-a-half times their hourly pay rate for hours worked over 40 in a single work week. The National Grid workers in this case, primarily responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining National Grid gas services, were not overtime exempt and therefore earned and should have been paid overtime pay.
Although these workers were completely within their legal rights in attempting to reclaim unpaid wages, the case was ultimately dismissed this past June. Apparently, National Grid was experiencing technical difficulties with the company payroll system and the insufficient paychecks were accidental. It is likely that National Grid willingly reimbursed their employees, resulting in the case’s dismissal.
Though these employees may have been rightfully compensated without court litigation, many other employees in Brooklyn, NY, and NJ are continually and illegally denied overtime wages. Moreover, employees rely on prompt and regular payment of earned wages, and delayed payment, even if accidental, is against the law. If you are a member of a union, like Local 101, and believe that you are not receiving your lawful wages, file a grievance. If you are not a union member, immediately contact an attorney who can help you bring claims under state and federal wage and hour laws.