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Wage Theft in Austin – Part 2

The wage theft class action suit filed by the Workers Defense Project on behalf of three construction workers who claimed that the specialty contractor Greater Metroplex Interiors (GMI) had shorted them on wages due and had not paid them overtime on the construction of the Gables Park Plaza has an interesting basis on a little known part of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) according to the Department of Labor.

The interesting point about the suit is that the suit is filed claiming joint employer status.  The plaintiff’s attorney, Craig Deats of Deats, Durst, Owen & Levy, PLLC in Austin told Construction Citizen that this is a common law under the labor laws and that the courts will decide whether GMI acted as a joint employer as is claimed in the suit.  He offers his opinion in the following video:

According to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals civil rights blogspot Wait A Second!:

“Under the labor laws, you can sue joint employers that are not bound by any official relationship so long as, among other things, the second company also controls your labor. This is why many plaintiffs suing for minimum wage and overtime violations name more than one employer as defendants.”

The Austin case, since it is a class action lawsuit, will be a good one to watch to see whether other plaintiffs join the suit and whether this action might be telling for companies like GMI and the rest of the multi-family and residential construction industry.  With the current state of the economy, close scrutiny on wage theft, and the passing of misclassification laws in 26 states, we can expect to see more of these suits in 2011, especially in the residential construction industry.

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