Losing a job or suffering retaliation at the workplace can result in severe emotional distress for Pennsylvania employees and their families. A 2017 appeals court ruling may now allow certain workers to sue for related damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit stemmed from an employee rights' lawsuit filed by a man who was a maintenance worker at an apartment complex. He sued the employer for an unpaid overtime claim only to have it retaliate by demanding that he and his family vacate the apartment where they lived. The complex owners also demanded that Pineda pay back rent on the employee discount he received.
A lower court awarded Pineda several thousand dollars for attorney's fees and overtime claims, but the appeals court ruled that Pineda should also receive compensation for the emotional injury that he suffered because his status caused the company to deny him employee benefits. The case hinged upon a provision in the federal statute that allowed a successful plaintiff to recover appropriate legal or equitable relief over and above pack pay and attorneys fees. This ruling could provide financial awards for workers who are victims of wrongful termination or whose employment claims have resulted in retaliation. The ruling will most likely not effect more straightforward cases that involve disputes over hourly pay, employee pensions, and denial of benefits.
People who have experienced retaliation at work should consult an experienced employee rights' attorney. They may be able to obtain financial compensation through FLSA laws for emotional injury caused by unpaid wage claims and wrongful termination.