Dozens of Wake County employees will be compensated with more than $378,000 as part of a settlement over wage and hour issues.
“It was quite complex to figure it all out but once we did, we filed suit and then we ended up settling the case,” said attorney Ryan Oxendine of Oxendine Barnes & Associates which represented 120 plaintiff employees in the case.
The class action matter concerned back wages alleged to be owed to EMS workers due to overtime regulations. Oxendine said that hours worked on overnight shifts were sometimes situated all on the previous day’s timesheet which, in some instances, might cause misreporting of overtime by placing hours in the wrong week.
The practice was calculated to have ultimately totaled more than $144,000 in lost wages.
Oxendine said that the defense claimed it was simply an oversight but he felt the evidence indicated that there was awareness of the practice.
“We had a recording of a Zoom call and we had an email where you could clearly see that they knew about it,” he said.
The Fair Labor Standards Act settlement included an amount of liquidated wages equal to the back wages. More than $80,000 in attorney’s fees and costs and $7,500 in a service award fee to the lead plaintiff were included in the settlement.
Oxendine listed Kevin Joyner and Michael Cohen of Ogletree, Deakins and Roger Askew and Jennifer Jones of Wake County as representing the defense.
Neither Joyner nor the Wake County attorney’s office returned a request for comment on the matter. A number for Cohen could not be immediately located.
A statement released to news outlet WRAL from County Manager David Ellis said that the issue was a simple mistake which was solved through quick action after it was discovered.
“This was an internal error,” said the statement. “It was not intentional or willful. The county has made changes in the way overtime is calculated and paid to ensure this will not happen again. The county is proud of the hard work and dedication of all of its employees and did not hesitate to make all affected employees whole.”
SETTLEMENT REPORT – FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT
Injuries alleged: Unpaid overtime
Case name: Steven Gorrell v. Wake County
Venue: United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
Case No.: 5:21-CV-00129
Judge: Richard Myers II
Date of settlement: August 9, 2022
Attorneys for plaintiff: Ryan Oxendine and Jim Barnes of Oxendine Barnes & Associates, (Raleigh)
Attorneys for defendant: Kevin Joyner and Michael Cohen of Ogletree, Deakins, (Raleigh); Roger Askew and Jennifer Jones of Wake County, (Raleigh)