Jury awards $49,500 plus $147,610 in attorney fees and costs to underpaid innkeeper when she was terminated after complaining about her overtime wages.

How should an employer react to an employee asking for overtime pay due under the law? Employers have a responsibility under the law to pay the minimum wage and to pay for overtime. If they do not, and they terminate based upon the employee’s request, then the employee will have a remedy at law against the employer not only for the back pay, but for wrongful termination as well.

In this case, the employee worked as an innkeeper on Catalina Island. She worked many unpaid hours and complained about not getting time off or payment for those hours. The employer then terminated the innkeeper. The employer claimed that the innkeeper did not work any overtime hours and was terminated for legitimate reasons not related to her request for overtime.

After a fifteen day jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and awarded the plaintiff $1,355 on her claim for minimum wages, $32,488 for overtime wages, $3,350 for waiting time penalties, $2,315 in economic damages, and punitive damages in the amount of $50,000 (reduced to $10,000 by the judge) and $147,610 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Trial Lawyer for the innkeeper: Robby Robinson of Quest Law Firm

(Reported in the Verdicts and Settlements section of The Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 8, 2003)