Castellanos v. Saints & Santos Construction, LLC et al
OPINION: IT IS ORDERED that Defendants shall pay liquidated damages in the amount of seven thousand and four hundred and thirty-nine dollars and thirty two cents ($7,439.32), as set forth in document. Signed by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle on 6/13/2018.(jls)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
SAINTS & SANTOS CONSTRUCTION,
L.L.C., ET AL.
The issue of liquidated damages, fully briefed by the parties,
is ripe for decision (Rec. Docs. 182 and 183). Section 16(b) of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), provides
that “any employer who violates the provisions of section 206 or
section 207 of this title shall be liable to the employee or
employees affected in the amount of their unpaid minimum wages .
. . and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.”
Barcellona v. Tiffany English Pub, Inc., 597 F.2d 464, 468 (5th
Cir. 1979)(emphasis added). However, the Court in its discretion
may reduce the amount or decline to award liquidated damages at
all “if the employer shows to the satisfaction of the court that
the act or omission giving rise to such action was in good faith
and that he had reasonable grounds for believing that his act or
omission was not a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of
1938, as amended.” 29 U.S.C. § 260.
Defendants contend they believed Plaintiffs were independent
contractors and not employees within the meaning of the FLSA until
Plaintiff’s filed suit. 1 Rec. Doc. 182. However, the Fifth Circuit
is clear that an employer may not “rely on ignorance alone as
Reasonable grounds for believing that its actions were not in
violation of the Act.” Barcellona v. Tiffany English Pub, Inc.,
597 F.2d 464, 468–69 (5th Cir. 1979).
Here, Defendants acknowledged that shortly after initiation
of this action they tendered unpaid overtime to plaintiffs, through
their attorney’s. Parties were eventually able to reach amicable
resolution of all claims, reserving the instant liquidated damages
issue for resolution by the Court on submitted briefs. While
accepting Defendants’ assertion they did not subjectively believe
a violation of FLSA had occurred, the uncontested factual record
and law established no reasonable grounds existed for such belief. 2
Defendants should however be afforded recognition of their efforts
to mitigate the consequences of their unreasonable conclusions.
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants shall pay liquidated damages in
the amount of seven thousand and four hundred and thirty-nine
dollars and thirty two cents ($7,439.32), to be divided between
See Rec. Doc. 24 denying Defendant’s 12(b)(6) dismissal motion on
employee versus independent contractor status. See also Rec. Doc. 128
denying Defendant’s Summary Judgment motion relative to employee versus
independent contractor status, finding material factual dispute on that
2 Cf., Chapman v. A.S.U.I. Healthcare & Dev. Ctr., 562 F. App'x 182, 185
(5th Cir. 2014).
proportion to their additional and duly awarded unpaid overtime
wages. Heidtman v. Cty. of El Paso, 171 F.3d 1038, 1042 (5th Cir.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 13th day of June, 2018.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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