Advanced Manufacturing – Age Discrimination State Claim, Violation of Florida Statues, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Advanced Manufacturing – Age Discrimination State Claim, Violation of Florida Statues, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Advanced Manufacturing caseIN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

CASE NO.

CHARLENE HAINSEL,

Plaintiff,

vs.

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING
TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,

Defendant.
___________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
JURISDICTION AND VENUE

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

1. This is an action for damages that exceed $15,000.00, exclusive of costs,
interest, and attorney’s fees.

2. The unlawful employment practices alleged below were committed within
Brevard County, Florida.

PARTIES

3. Plaintiff is a female who resides in Brevard County, Florida, and has at all
times material herein resided in Brevard County, Florida.

4. Defendant AMTI is a Delaware corporation, and at all times material herein was registered and doing business in the State of Florida as Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. Defendant AMTI is registered and authorized to do business in the State of Florida and at all times material herein maintained a place of business in Brevard County, Florida and at the time of acts complained of herein, employed 15 or more persons and was engaged in an industry affecting commerce.

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

5. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay him a
reasonable fee.

6. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.

7. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.

8. Plaintiff was hired by Defendant on or about August 8, 1994.

9. At the time of her termination, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant AMTI in the position of full-time Payroll/Benefits Administrator, at Defendant’s Melbourne, Florida office.

10. At all times during her employment with Defendant, Plaintiff performed all
duties assigned to her in a professionally competent manner, faithfully followed all
instructions given to her by her supervisors, and abided by all the rules and regulations
of Defendant.

11. Plaintiff was terminated by Defendant on or about October 8, 1997.

12. Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer grave and severe damage to her financial welfare and her employment prospects by reason of Defendant’s unlawful and discriminatory actions against Plaintiff.

13. Plaintiff has suffered severe mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of Defendant’s actions.

COUNT I

VIOLATION OF FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT
FAILURE TO PAY OVERTIME WAGES

14. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 12 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.

15. This action is brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (29 USC § 201 et. seq.), hereinafter “FLSA”, to recover unpaid back wages, an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs.
16. Jurisdiction of this action is conferred upon this Court by Section 16(b) of the FLSA (29 USC 216(b)).

17. At all times hereinafter mentioned, Defendant having been engaged in related activities performed through unified operation or common control for a common business purpose; having employees engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or employees handling, receiving, selling or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce; and having annual gross volume of sales made or business done of not less than $500,000, exclusive of excise taxes at the retail level, therefore constitutes an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce within the meaning of Section 3(r) and (s) of the FLSA (29 USC § 203(r) and (s)).

18. During the period from approximately May 16, 1997 to August 23, 1997, Defendant willfully employed Plaintiff as a full-time Payroll/Benefits Administrator in the aforesaid enterprise for workweeks longer than 40 hours and failed to compensate her for her employment in excess of 40 hours per week at a rate of at least one and one-half (1 and 1/2) times the regular rate at which she was employed, contrary to the requirements of Section 7 of the FLSA (29 USC § 207).

19. Plaintiff was the only employee of Defendant in her department who was not paid time-and-one-half for hours worked in excess of forty (40) per week.

20. On or about June 11, 1997, Plaintiff advised Defendant in a written memorandum that because her position was not “exempt” as defined by the FLSA, Defendant was required to pay her time and one half for all hours worked over forty (40) per week. Despite numerous conversations between Plaintiff and AMTI’s Director of Finance regarding the failure of AMTI to pay overtime wages as required by federal law, Defendant AMTI did not thereafter pay Plaintiff time and one half for hours worked over forty (40) per week.

21. On or about November 20, 1997, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Labor regarding Defendant AMTI’s failure to pay Plaintiff time and one half for hours worked over forty (40) per work week, while she had been employed with AMTI.

22. On or about November 20, 1998, Plaintiff received a check from AMTI, purportedly in response to Plaintiff’s complaint filed with the United States Department of Labor, paying Plaintiff overtime wages owed pursuant to the FLSA. The amount paid to Plaintiff was only part of what was owed to her, and at the present time there remains outstanding a portion of the amount of unpaid overtime wages which Defendant AMTI owes to Plaintiff.

23. The records concerning the number of hours Plaintiff was required to work overtime for which Plaintiff has not been compensated are in the exclusive possession and control of Defendant AMTI, and Plaintiff does not know with certainty at this time the exact amount still owing to Plaintiff.

24. Plaintiff has demanded payment of the wages for unpaid overtime, but Defendant AMTI has failed to pay said wages in full. Defendant’s failure to pay the full amount of overtime wages owed to Plaintiff was willful.

25. Defendant AMTI is liable to Plaintiff for liquidated damages in an amount equal to Plaintiff’s unpaid overtime, for a willful violation of the FLSA.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands Judgment against Defendant AMTI for her unpaid overtime and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

COUNT II

VIOLATION OF FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT
RETALIATION

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

26. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 12 and paragraphs 17 through 20 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.

27. This action is brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (29 USC § 201 et. seq.), hereinafter “FLSA”, to recover back wages, an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs.

28. Jurisdiction of this action is conferred upon this Court by Section 16(b) of the FLSA (29 USC 216(b)).

29. Subsequent to informing Defendant AMTI that it was in violation of the FLSA, Plaintiff received an employee counseling record which cited her “poor attitude”, among other alleged “deficiencies”. Plaintiff had never received written counseling records in her three (3) years of employment prior to the time she notified Defendant of its violations of the FLSA.

30. Because the counseling record made vague and general references to any alleged “problems” with Plaintiff’s performance, without citing specifics, Plaintiff demanded of Defendant an explanation as to the precise and specific “problems” referred to in the counseling record. When Defendant declined to do so, Plaintiff advised Defendant that she wished to consult with an attorney regarding the issuance of the counseling records. As a result of that request, Plaintiff received another employee counseling record from AMTI. At a later date, Plaintiff tendered a written response to Defendant denying the vague and general accusations made in the counseling records, but Defendant refused to accept Plaintiff’s response.

31. As a result of the issuance of the counseling records to Plaintiff by Defendant, Plaintiff suffered anxiety, high blood pressure and elevated stress, from which she sought relief by consulting a physician. The physician advised Plaintiff not to work while she recovered from anxiety, hypertension and stress. The physician allowed Plaintiff to return to work on October 6, 1997.

32. Plaintiff returned to work on October 6, 1997, but was not allowed to return to her Payroll/Benefits Administrator position. Defendant had hired a new employee for this position and placed Plaintiff in the position of Travel administrator. Defendant had never trained Plaintiff for the position of Travel Administrator, and Plaintiff was not given a phone, a computer or a desk upon her return to work. She had to share these items with a temporary employee upon her return to work.

33. Because Plaintiff had not been trained for the position, there was only a limited amount of work Plaintiff could do, a fact which Defendant well knew. Defendant would ask each day what Plaintiff “had done all day”, knowing that Plaintiff was not fully trained as a Travel Administrator. On October 8, 1997, on her third day at work following her illness, Plaintiff was terminated, allegedly on the grounds that she “had a bad attitude” because she had consulted an attorney regarding the issuance of the employee counseling records which had been issued to her prior to her illness.

34. Defendant, in re-assigning Plaintiff to a position for which she was not trained, and by failing to provide her training therefore, made it impossible for Plaintiff to effectively discharge her duties in her new Travel Administrator position, and thus constructively discharged Plaintiff. By so doing, and by issuing the employee counseling records to Plaintiff for no other reason than that she had notified Defendant that it was in violation of the FLSA, Defendant has committed a willful violation of 29 U.S.C. §215(a)(3), which prohibits an employer from “discharg[ing] or discriminat[ing] against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint under or related to” the FLSA.

35. Defendant is liable to Plaintiff for liquidated damages in an amount equal to Plaintiff’s back pay, had she not been illegally discharged in retaliation for filing a complaint in regard to Defendant’s failure to pay overtime wages, because Defendant’s violation of the FLSA was willful.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands Judgment against Defendant for her back pay overtime and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

COUNT III

VIOLATION OF FLORIDA STATUTES, SECTIONS 448.101-448.105

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

36. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 12, paragraphs 18 through 20 and paragraphs 29-33 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.

37. This is an action for damages for violation of Sections 448.101-448.105, Florida Statutes.

38. Defendant AMTI is an “employer” as defined by Section 448.101, Florida Statutes.

39. AMTI has committed a “retaliatory personnel action”, as prohibited by Sections 448.101-448.105, Florida Statutes, against Plaintiff.

40. Plaintiff was terminated by Defendant as a result of a retaliatory personnel action because she informed Defendant AMTI that it was in violation of federal laws regarding the payment of overtime wages, specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

41. The actions taken by Defendant in terminating Plaintiff are prohibited actions under Section 448.102, Florida Statutes, and Plaintiff was retaliated against by Defendant in violation of Plaintiff’s rights under that section.

42. Plaintiff has been required to retain the services of the undersigned counsel to represent Plaintiff in this action and has agreed to pay him a reasonable fee.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for damages against Defendant, AMTI as follows:

A. Compensation for lost wages, benefits, and other remuneration.
B. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs
incurred herein.
C. Such other and further relief as the Court deems proper.

COUNT IV
AGE DISCRIMINATION
STATE CLAIM

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

43. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 13, paragraphs 18 through 20 and paragraphs 29-33 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.

44. This is an action for damages for violation of Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, the Florida Civil Rights Act.

45. At the time Plaintiff returned to work with AMTI following her recovery from hypertension, anxiety and stress, she was not allowed to return to her position as Payroll/Benefits Coordinator. Within three (3) days, she was terminated by AMTI. At the time of her termination, Plaintiff was fifty-three (53) years of age, having been born on February 14, 1944.

46. The person who replaced Plaintiff as Payroll/Benefits Coordinator was substantially younger than Plaintiff. This person did not perform any additional duties nor did she possess any additional skills than had previously been required of Plaintiff in the position.

47. By replacing Plaintiff, who had been out on medical leave as required by her physician, with a younger employee, reassigning Plaintiff to a position for which she was untrained, failing to provide her appropriate training and terminating her after only three days in the new position, Defendant intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of her age.

48. On October 6, 1998 Plaintiff filed a claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (attached hereto as Exhibit “A”) alleging discrimination by AMTI against Plaintiff on the basis of age and disability. More than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since the filing of said complaint, and the Florida Commission on Human Relations has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.

49. As a result of the age discrimination perpetrated by Defendant, Plaintiff lost her income from her job, and has sustained emotional damages in the form of mental anguish and loss of dignity.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Back pay from October 9, 1997 to the present;
B. Compensatory damages for mental anguish and loss of dignity;
C. Punitive damages;
D. Reasonable attorney’s fees and cost of this action.

COUNT V

VIOLATION OF THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

50. This is an action brought pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. Sections 2601 to 2654, to obtain relief for denial of benefits and termination from employment in violation of the FMLA.

51. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 12, paragraphs 18 through 20 and paragraphs 29 through 33 of this complaint as if set forth in full herein.

52. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant in excess of twelve months and for at least 1250 hours over the twelve months prior to denial of her benefits and termination by Defendant.

53. Defendant employed in excess of 50 employees for each working day during each of twenty or more calendar work weeks in the year culminating in Plaintiff’s termination.

54. During the period of time Plaintiff was out of work on medical leave, she was repeatedly contacted by Defendant AMTI with inquiries as to when she would be returning to work. Further, Plaintiff’s supervisor told her during these conversations that the company (AMTI) had found someone to replace her.

55. Despite the Defendant’s knowledge of the Plaintiff’s severely elevated blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and physician’s recommendation that Plaintiff cease working for a period of time until such time as she was physically able to return to work, the Defendant, upon Plaintiff’s return to work after medical leave, re-assigned the Plaintiff to a position for which she was not trained, and further, terminated her after giving her only three (3) days to adjust to the position. Defendant had no intention of extending Plaintiff’s employment after she took a medical leave as required by her physician, and through its reassignment of Plaintiff to a position for which she was not trained constructively discharged Plaintiff on October 8, 1997.
56. By constructively discharging Plaintiff in this fashion, after she had returned from medical leave, Defendant violated 28 U.S.C. §2515(a)(1), which makes it unlawful for an employer to “interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right provided” by the FMLA. Specifically, Plaintiff’s right to return from leave to her original position or an equivalent position was interfered with by Defendant because Plaintiff was essentially given no chance for continued employment upon her return. That is, Defendant did not make a good faith effort to continue Plaintiff’s employment after her return from medical leave.

57. The Defendant’s actions against the Plaintiff in violation of the FMLA were done wantonly, maliciously, willfully and with the intent to do harm to Plaintiff.

58. Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer grave and severe damage to her financial welfare, by reason of Defendant’s unlawful actions against the Plaintiff.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, as follows:

a. Judgment for all wages, salary, employment benefits and other compensation denied or lost Plaintiff by reason of Defendant’s violation of the FMLA;
b. Interest;
c. An additional amount as liquidated damages;
d. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein;
e. Such other damages as may be just and proper.

COUNT VI

BREACH OF ORAL CONTRACT

Plaintiff, CHARLENE HAINSEL, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES, INC. (hereinafter “AMTI”), and alleges as follows:

59. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 12 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.

60. This is an action for breach of an oral contract.

61. Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an oral contract during late 1996. By the terms of the oral contract, Plaintiff was to be given a $2.00 per hour raise effective August 8, 1996, the date of Plaintiff’s next evaluation. As consideration therefore, Plaintiff agreed to take over the accounts payable functions temporarily, do extra work on weekends, and cover, i.e. perform, an audit for another employee. Plaintiff was repeatedly assured by Defendant that her raise would be made retroactive to August 8, 1996.

62. Plaintiff entered into the oral contract described in paragraph 61 with her supervisor, Scott Page, Defendant’s Director of Finance. As an agent of Defendant AMTI, Page was duly authorized to enter into the oral contract with Plaintiff.

63. Plaintiff performed all conditions precedent to be performed by Plaintiff or the conditions have occurred.

64. Defendant gave Plaintiff a $2.00 per hour raise on or about May 16, 1997, made retroactive to May 1, 1997. To this date, Defendant has still not paid to Plaintiff her retroactive raise amount for the period from August 8, 1996 to May 1, 1997. Defendant therefore owes to Plaintiff the retroactive raise amount from August 8, 1996 to May 1, 1997, together with interest since May 1, 1997.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff demands judgment against Defendant for the damages described herein, together with her costs and attorney’s fees.

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.

DATED this _____day of August, 1999.

Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
Wayne L. Allen, P.A.
Attorney for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road
Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (407) 254-7550
Fax: (407) 242-1681

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: CLOSED
Date Filed: 08/30/1999

Our Melbourne office is centrally located in Brevard County, enabling our lawyers to serve clients throughout “the Space Coast”, including Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay and Vero Beach.