Boss Tells Worker She Can’t Have Overtime Pay Until She Gives In to His Sexual Advances
Woman claims that boss continually had her stay late so he could harass her
A lot of workers jump at the chance to work overtime to help supplement their incomes. The prospect of making time and a half can be a big incentive to put in the extra hours.
Unfortunately though, sometimes workers are disappointed when their paychecks come and the money they had expected to earn isn’t there. The fact is, there are plenty of employers who are willing to exploit staffers’ eagerness to make extra money, but then instead of delivering the compensation, they deliver excuses instead.
One recent court case demonstrates how a company owner may have taken this concept to a new extreme: He refused to pony up a woman’s overtime pay unless she gave in to his sexual advances, according to the woman’s lawsuit.
Let’s look at what happened to this woman, and then discuss what workers need to know.
Overtime Behavior Was Over the Line
Amanda Malphurs, an hourly office employee for Cooling Tower Systems (CTS), had mixed feelings about overtime.
On one hand, she liked the prospect of earning extra money. On the other hand, overtime usually meant that she’d have to be alone with company owner Joe Coates. According to Malphurs’s lawsuit, Coates used this special “alone time” with Malphurs to sexually harass her. In fact, she believes he often asked her to stay late specifically for this reason.
She states that, on multiple occasions, Coates looked down her shirt, roughly pinched her breasts, made sexually explicit requests, and pressed his genitals against her body.
The situation began affecting her health. Malphurs claims that she became severely depressed, felt nauseous, suffered panic attacks, and had nightmares that Coates was going to rape her.
But that was only part of the problem. Despite enduring Coates’s unwelcome behavior in order to earn overtime, Malphurs found that her paycheck was consistently short.
In addition to working after hours, Malphurs was also often asked to work on the weekends, either cleaning the office or Coates’s apartment. She was told not to note this time on her time card.
She states that also often had to work through lunch, but was not paid for the time. If she didn’t clock out during lunch, her time card would later be modified by a supervisor to reflect a lunch break.
Malphurs complained to Coates about her paychecks.
She says that he gave her $250 in cash but refused to pay her the remaining $1800 unless she gave in to his sexual advances.
Sought a Legal Solution
Malphurs quit and spoke to an attorney.
She sued for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and for intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual battery.
The company attempted to have the case dismissed.
It stated that Malphurs’s time card did not reflect any overtime. Coates even stated that no one in the company worked during lunch, after 5 PM, or on the weekends.
Malphurs’s legal team countered that the overtime hours did not appear on her time card because she was not allowed to note them. In addition, Malphurs did not have keys to the building. That meant that either Coates or another supervisor had to lock or unlock the building while Malphurs was there after hours, so the company should have been aware that she was working overtime.
CTS also alleged that Malphurs couldn’t have suffered from emotional distress or sexual battery because she never sought medical treatment.
Malphurs’s attorneys pointed out that she didn’t seek medical treatment because she didn’t have health insurance.
The court refused to throw out the case. Now it seems that CTS will have to defend itself against Malphurs’s allegations in front of a jury.
(The case discussed here is Malphurs v. Cooling Tower Systems.)
What Workers Need to Know
Facing off against your employer can be extremely intimidating – especially when the company flatly denies all of your allegations and attempts to make you appear dishonest.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are various federal and state laws that offer workers protection from wage violations, sexual harassment, and other potentially unlawful behavior on the job.
Speaking to an attorney can help you figure out how to best proceed in emotionally upsetting situations such as this.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.