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Employee wins settlement after time card woes

A Florida worker at a sports facility won a large settlement from a wrongful termination suit this month. The man, who served as a card dealer in the facility’s poker room, had been fired after he incorrectly recorded his hours worked, even though his employer did not permit him access to the official time clock. The man has recovered $33,700 in damages in connection with the wrongful termination case, which could increase over time.

The federal lawsuit was filed in the summer of 2011 after the man said he was wrongfully fired. The man said that his swipe badge, used to clock in and out of work, broke several months before that time. His employer and supervisors refused to issue him a new badge, so he began to record his hours manually on a sheet next to the time clock. His supervisors and the company’s payroll clerk continued to harass him about putting his hours in the computerized system, even though he was unable to do so without the appropriate equipment.

In February 2011, company administrators told the man they would stop paying him if he did not log his time electronically. The man told his employers that it was illegal to refuse to pay a worker, and he would take legal action if the company did not provide him with the earned money. Shortly thereafter, the man was fired.

Courtroom documents allege that the man’s termination was directly caused by his complaints to management about not getting paid. Representatives for the company maintain that they never violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, yet the employer was also accused under Florida’s whistleblower protection law, legislation that protects people who report wrongdoing on the job.

In this case, the man recovered damages for lost wages. He may also have obtained financial compensation for emotional distress, which almost certainly occurred after the man lost his job. When dealing with a sluggish economy, losing employment is difficult — especially if a person is unfairly terminated. This is why it’s important for employees to understand their rights under state and federal law.

Source: Ocala Star-Banner, “Card room worker wins $33,700 verdict against Second Chance Jai-Alai,” Vishal Persaud, Feb. 14, 2013