11th Cir Finds Sufficient Evidence of Minimum Wage Law Violation

By Betty Wang, JD on June 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed when the district court entered a judgment ruling that the Menendez family did not willfully violate minimum wage laws, and found that there was sufficient evidence to support a finding.

Plaintiff Maria Davila was hired as a nanny for the Menendez family from 2004 until 2010 and alleged that the defendants violated federal and state minimum wage laws. The district court had granted a judgment as a matter of law against Davila and in favor of the Menendezes, claiming that Davila did not introduce sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find a willful violation of minimum wage laws.

Davila alleged that during her time working for the Menendez family, she worked an average of 100 hours a week and was paid, on average, only $3.50 each hour, while later on she worked an average of 75 hours with an hourly rate of $4.00, the pay was still lower than the required legal minimum wage. The Menendezes, in return, alleged conflicting facts -- some of which include allegations that Davila did not actually work that many hours and that she had willingly stayed, when Davila claims she was required to.

The Eleventh Circuit found that this, and more, was sufficient evidence for a jury. They bring up the fact that it was elicited that Menendezes knew about hourly wage laws, but had failed to investigate whether or not they were in compliance. On top of this, Davila had also testified that she did not sign a contract, was paid in cash, and was not required to record her hours. Lastly, Davila claimed threatening comments about her alien status were made.

The fact that the Menendezes turned a blind eye to the wage laws, unintentionally or not, was enough for a reasonable jury to have drawn a contrary inference from the evidence. The district court should have submitted an issue of willfulness.

Davila is now entitled to a new trial before a jury to determine this issue. Bottom line: follow the FLSA and pay minimum wage, or things will get legal.

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