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Lindsey Management Facing Numerous Overtime Lawsuits

3 min read

Lindsey Management Co. of Fayetteville, the largest apartment property manager in Arkansas, is dealing with several federal lawsuits from employees who allege they weren’t paid overtime.

Six complaints are pending around the state, and one is set for trial in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville on Sept. 22. All allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

(Update, Oct. 1: Since this story was published, a federal jury has ruled in favor of Lindsey Management in one of these cases.) 

The cases involve plaintiffs who held several positions at Lindsey’s complexes, from apartment managers to maintenance workers, who say they weren’t paid overtime for the work they did.

Lindsey isn’t the only business pulled into litigation over similar allegations. In 2013, 39 FLSA lawsuits were filed in federal courts in Arkansas, and 40 have been filed so far this year. The number, though, reached a high-water mark in 2012, when 71 cases were filed.

“There’s a lot of economic pressure on companies, quite frankly, to cheat employees out of their wages,” Matthew Finkin, who teaches labor law at the University of Illinois College of Law, told Arkansas Business last week.

Katherine Fisk, a chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California at Irvine, said she doesn’t know why such filings might be on the rise. If there are more, it could be because of “conniving plaintiffs’ lawyers or because of clever companies exploiting loopholes in the law,” she said last week.

Little Rock attorney Josh Sanford, who represents several of the plaintiffs against Lindsey, said his office of about 10 attorneys spends about 70 percent of its time on FLSA cases.

Sanford’s most recent case against Lindsey was filed last month for Jason Torres, a former maintenance worker at The Greens at Hurricane Creek in Bryant. Torres alleged that he worked five to seven extra hours each week doing things such as pool maintenance and storing golf carts but wasn’t paid for that time.

Torres is seeking class-action status for his case, with the class to include all hourly-paid maintenance workers at Lindsey’s properties. The company’s website says it manages more than 38,000 apartment units in eight states.

Ann Mourney, an attorney for Lindsey, declined to comment on the pending lawsuits, but in court filings Lindsey has denied allegations of wrongdoing.

Fights Over the Law

Sanford also declined to comment specifically on the pending cases against Lindsey, but he said that lawsuits about FLSA violations are usually fights over the law rather than the facts of the case.

Both the employer and the employee usually agree that overtime has been worked, but the employer typically claims the employee is exempt from overtime pay while the worker disagrees, Sanford said.

The FLSA requires that the covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least $7.25 an hour, plus time and a half for more than 40 hours worked in a week. Finkin, the Illinois law professor, said the FLSA “is riddled with exceptions” as to who is covered by the act. Managerial, executive and professional workers are exempt from overtime.

In one lawsuit against Lindsey, 15 plaintiffs are classified as “community directors,” which is Lindsey’s title for apartment managers. They allegedly were told they had to work 55-65 hours a week but didn’t receive overtime pay, according to the lawsuit.

In court filings, Lindsey said the plaintiffs were paid all wages owed to them. It also said they “were and still are exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA.” In that case, Lindsey Management Chairman Jim Lindsey is named as a defendant.

Sanford said employers can save a lot of money by not paying overtime.

“That’s good for business; it’s good for their customers,” Sanford said. “But when they do it improperly, it harms their employees in a way that the law doesn’t allow for, and it ultimately is bad for their business.”

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