Padula Bennardo Levine Successfully Defends Broward County Neurologist Against Overtime Lawsuit

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A former employee alleged that working-lunch breaks had been unfairly deducted from her hours.

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The law firm of Padula Bennardo Levine, LLP successfully defended a Coral Springs neurologist and his medical practice against a lawsuit filed by a former employee alleging unpaid overtime. On February 10, a Miami-Dade County jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor after a four-day trial in front of United States District Judge Beth Bloom.

The case was brought by Lorene Rocquel Thompson, previously a front desk medical assistant, against North Broward Neurology, P.A., and its owner, Brad Dajani, MD. Thompson asserted that time attributed to lunch breaks was automatically deducted from her weekly pay, regardless of whether she used them or not. Thompson filed suit in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 216(b).*

Thompson was employed by Dajani's medical practice from July 2011 until Dec. 25, 2015, earning $12.50 per hour and time-and-a-half ($18.75) for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Thompson generally averaged between five to 10 overtime hours per week, although there were some weeks where she claimed to have worked as many as 15 to 20 additional hours. She filled out her own timecard and was paid accordingly. Her employer did not pay employees for their half-hour lunch breaks as a standard practice, and deducted this time from their timecards to reflect this.

Thompson claimed that she worked through her breaks and she should have been paid for that additional time. She only raised this claim after the defendants terminated her employment in December 2015 for falsifying her timecard.

The defense showed that during her employment, Thompson had specifically indicated on her timecard the days on which she was not able to take her half-hour lunch break. On at least 13 of these occasions, the defendants correspondingly paid her for this time.

The defendants denied, however, that Thompson had worked through her lunch break on days when she did not notify them, stating that they had no knowledge of such activity. Defense counsel therefore contested whether the plaintiff worked additional unpaid hours, and also highlighted to the jury the fact that the medical practice paid Thompson sick pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, and yearly bonuses.

In addition, the defendants hired Thompson’s daughter in 2015 and paid her the appropriate minimum wage for helping out around the office. Despite this generosity, Thompson filed the lawsuit seeking recovery of $14,371.07 of lost pay from Feb. 13, 2013 until Dec. 25, 2015, as well as court costs and attorney’s fees. Though a trial risked these additional expenses, the defendants believed in their case and refused to settle in response to the suit.

After deliberating for two hours, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the defendants, specifically finding that Thompson did not work overtime hours without compensation.

  • Case Number: 16-cv-60240-BLOOM/Valle

About Padula Bennardo Levine

Padula Bennardo Levine is a multidisciplinary law firm based in Boca Raton, FL with extensive expertise in employment law as well as four board-certifications in different aspects of the law. Its attorneys specialize in a range of practice areas, including business litigation, real estate and title services, estate administration and planning, and corporate transactional work, in addition to labor and employment issues. This expertise allows the firm to devise comprehensive legal strategies for clients spanning a variety of legal needs.

For more information about Padula Bennardo Levine, LLP, please visit http://www.pbl-law.com.

For more information about this case or employment law issues, contact Daniel R. Levine at 561.544.8900 or DRL(at)pbl-law(dot)com.

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