Sinapi Law Wins Over $2 Million Jury Trial Verdict for Wage and Hour Clients

Sinapi Law is proud to announce a decisive, hard-fought win following a jury trial in June 2022 for our employment law clients.  The victory totaling over $2 million was in favor of seven cable installers who were misclassified as independent contractors and deprived of minimum wages, minimum shift pay, and overtime pay during their employment.  The trial took place in RI Federal District Court this past summer, and the Court entered judgment for our clients on October 14, 2022.

Lead trial attorney Richard A. Sinapi had this to say:  “The judgment entered by the court in this case highlights a symptom of a much larger problem that is industry-wide: the unlawful exploitation of cable installers by cable providers—including Cox who contracted the defendant contractor in this case—by using outside cable installing companies who misclassify workers as independent contractors in order to save money by not paying for all hours worked, overtime pay, payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance, and other benefits of employment.  Unfortunately, until all those responsible for perpetuating this unlawful payment scheme are held accountable, workers will continue to be exploited so that cable companies can enjoy higher profits.”

Following a five-day jury trial and less than one hour of jury deliberations, the jury handed our clients a complete victory on all their claims and found that the employer intentionally violated their rights under the Rhode Island Payment of Wages Act (“RIPWA”) and the Federal Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Under the FLSA, employees can recover liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages (essentially double damages) while under the RIPWA, employees can recover up to two times the amounts of unpaid wages owed (essentially treble damages), if a court or jury determines that the employer’s violations were willful or intentional.  After our litigators established at trial that the employer had previously been investigated and sanctioned by the U.S. Dept. of Labor on the proper recording and calculation of wages, the Court awarded our clients two times liquidated damages.  This means that the employer must now pay each of our clients their unpaid wages plus an additional amount of two times the unpaid wages for intentionally violating their rights.

After tacking on pre-judgment interest, the Court entered judgment for our clients totaling $1,175,574.90 and imposed an additional misclassification penalty of $35,000 on the employer.  Additionally, both the RIPWA and FLSA have provisions that require defendants to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs of plaintiff’s that prevail on their claims.  In this case, the Court awarded total attorneys’ fees and costs of $824,838.49.  While the actual fees were $540,391.56, our attorneys successfully petitioned the court for what is known as a “multiplier,” or an enhancement, of the fees by a factor of 1.5 due to, among others, the complexity of the matter and the number of plaintiffs as well as the fact that litigation was significantly more challenging due to the employer’s failure to maintain and produce proper time records.  In total, the Court entered judgment in favor of  our clients in the amount of $2,035,413.39.

Cox Cable had previously been dismissed as a defendant in this case because the Court found it was not a “joint employer” of the plaintiffs as defined under applicable law at the time.

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