George Washington University

A former employee of the George Washington University (“GWU” or “University”) has filed a case in federal court on behalf of employees who recently had their job titles “reclassified” – that is, GWU recently admitted that the employees’ work was covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (the federal overtime law) and that the employees were eligible for overtime pay. The complaint alleges that the University failed to pay employees overtime wages for many years by claiming the employees were exempt from overtime laws. Over the past year, GWU acknowledged that the employees should have been paid overtime wages, reclassified them as non-exempt employees, and began paying overtime wages as required by federal and state law. As part of the reclassification effort, the University made small payments for overtime worked over the two years prior to the reclassification based on its own estimates of the overtime worked. The lawsuit contends that the University underpaid its employees both by underestimating the overtime employees actually worked and also by only paying back wages for the last two years of work when federal and local law allows employees to recover wages going back three years. Moreover, the University’s back payments did not include additional liquidated damages that are required by law. As a result, many employees may have significant back pay and damages still due them. The case seeks to recover all unpaid wages for a three-year period as well as liquidated damages on behalf of eligible employees. Click here to read the Complaint. If you work or recently worked for the George Washington University and were reclassified so that you now receive overtime pay, you may be able to join this action to recover back overtime wages and liquidated damages. To join, you must fill out a “Consent to Sue” form and send it to Getman & Sweeney, PLLC.

How to Join this Case If you have also worked for this defendant you can join this case by downloading and filling out the Consent to Sue Form and faxing, emailing, or mailing it to Getman Sweeney. You need the free Acrobat Reader installed to view the form.

Status Reports

The Case Has Been Resolved – Posted September 4, 2014

Click here to read the Order granting approval of the settlement.

Notice to Join the Case Sent to GWU Employees November 20, 2012

The court-ordered notice of the opportunity to join this case was sent to Executive Assistants, Executive Associates, and Executive Coordinators on November 16, 2012.  Click here to read the Notice.

All current and former Executive Assistants, Executive Associates, and Executive Coordinators employed by George Washington University after April 27, 2009, who worked in excess of 40 hours per week in those positions, were not paid overtime wages during all or part of their employment in those positions, and were in one of those positions when those positions were reclassified are eligible to join this case.

We encourage current and former employees to contact us if you have questions.  If you would like to join the case to bring back wage claims, Click Here for the Consent to Sue Form and follow the instructions on the form.

Court Allows Driscoll to Send Notice to Class Members for FLSA and DC Minimum Wage Claims November 13, 2012

On October 25, the Court granted Driscoll’s motion to conditionally certify the action as FLSA and DC Minimum Wage collective actions for current and former Executive Assistants, Executive Coordinators and Executive Associates. The Court also ordered that notice of the opportunity to join the lawsuit be sent to the class of affected employees and former employees. Read the Court’s decision here: ORDER Certifying FLSA Collective Action

The complete set of briefs can be accessed below:

Notice to the class of affected employees will be sent out shortly. Once notice is sent, it will also be posted here.

Driscoll Moves for Class Certification of DC Wage Payment & Collection Law Claims – Posted on October 15, 2012

On October 11, Driscoll asked the Court to certify a class action on behalf of all current and former Executive Aides, Executive Assistants, Executive Support Assistants, Executive Coordinators, and Executive Associates employed by the George Washington University after April 27, 2009 who worked overtime hours but were not paid overtime wages during all or part of their employment.  He claims that GWU misclassified the class members as exempt from the federal and state overtime requirements for years and did not pay them overtime.  When GWU finally acknowledged that the class members are due overtime wages, it made a back wage payment that was far less than it owed under the law.  This case seeks to require GWU to pay all the class members the back wages and damages that it owes them under the law. Click here to read Driscoll’s Motion for Class Certification.

Court Refused to Dismiss the Case and Allows Driscoll to Amend His Complaint – Posted on October 15, 2012

On September 10, Judge Huvelle denied GWU’s motion to dismiss Driscoll’s complaint and allowed Driscoll to file his Second Amended Complaint.  The decision means that the case will go forward in federal court.  In allowing the amended complaint, Judge Huvelle wrote:   [T]here is no doubt that GWU is benefited by the additional specificity Driscoll provides in his proposed second amended complaint. Finally, GWU’s half-hearted argument that Driscoll acted in bad faith is without merit. GWU can point to no evidence of a dilatory motive or of bad faith on Driscoll’s part. Click here to read the Court’s opinion. The Second Amended Complaint was entered on September 11. Click here to read Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.

GWU Moves to Dismiss the Case – Posted on August 31, 2012

The parties have filed a series of motions in this case and are waiting for the Court to rule on them. We are now awaiting the Court’s decisions on GWU’s Motion to Dismiss and Driscoll’s Cross-Motion to Amend. Once the Court has ruled on the motions, the parties will be able to proceed with the litigation. How the case proceeds depends on how the Court rules on each of the issues before it. We will post an update as soon as the Court renders its decisions. GWU has made a motion to dismiss the case arguing that the Complaint is not specific enough, that the remedies it asks for are not proper, and that it is improper to ask to have the claims treated as a class action. Click here to read GWU’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs responded asking the Court to allow the claims and class to go forward as stated in the Complaint. Click here to read Plaintiff’s Opposition. GWU submitted a Reply to Plaintiff’s Opposition. Click here to read GWU’s reply . Plaintiffs have made a cross-motion asking the Court to amend the Complaint to add additional facts to address GWU’s objections and to plead additional class claims. Click here to read Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion. GWU has opposed the Cross-Motion to amend. Click here to read GWU’s Opposition. Driscoll has submitted a Reply to GWU’s Opposition. Click here to read Plaintiff’s Reply. Plaintiffs have also moved the Court to conditionally certify the action as a FLSA collective action and to order a Notice of Lawsuit sent to the class of affected employees and former employees. This class consists of all current and former Executive Aides, Executive Assistants, Executive Support Assistants, Executive Coordinators, and Executive Associates employed by the George Washington University after April 27, 2009 who worked overtime hours but were not paid overtime wages during all or part of their employment. Click here to read Plaintiffs’ Motion to Certify. GWU must submit any opposition by September 10.

Read the Recent GW Hatchet Article – Posted on June 13, 2012

The GW Hatchet, GW’s independent student newspaper recently wrote about the case. Follow this link to the article. http://www.gwhatchet.com/2012/06/12/collective-lawsuit-against-university-picks-up-steam/

Video Update About Status Of The Case – Posted on May 14, 2012

Mike Sweeney and Lesley Tse introduce the issues in this case.

Answers to Common Questions – Posted 5/7/12

What claims are covered in this case?

The lawsuit at present covers claims for overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and under D.C. labor law. The specific violations claimed are that GWU failed to pay employees overtime wages before it reclassified them and the payments made at reclassification were less than those required by law.

What damages are sought?

Damages sought under the FLSA include back overtime pay, an equal amount of liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and any costs of litigating the case. Damages for the D.C. labor law claim includes back overtime pay, interest, liquidated damages, and fees and costs.

What is the difference between the FLSA and D.C. Labor Law claims?

Both claims are based on the same facts—GWU’s misclassification of employees and its failure to pay people their back wages upon reclassification as required under the law, and many of the available damages are the same under both laws. The primary difference in the claims is that the D.C. overtime law claims allow for a longer period of recovery of back overtime pay. The FLSA allows claims for overtime wages going back two years (or three years if the employer acted willfully) from when someone affirmatively joins the case by filing a Consent to Sue. You must send us a signed Consent to Sue to bring FLSA claims in this action. The D.C. Minimum Wage Act allows claims for overtime wages going back three years from when someone affirmatively joins the case by filing a Consent to Sue. You must send us a signed Consent to Sue to bring claims under the D.C. labor law. Plaintiffs also brought a class action under the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Act. The statute of limitation for those claims is also three years.

How far back can claims be made?

Under the FLSA, you are entitled to make claims for the period extending back two years (three years if the employer acted willfully) from the date your Consent to Sue form is filed in Court. This two (or three) year period is called the “statute of limitation.” Under the D.C. Minimum Wage Act, the statute of limitation runs on claims for three years from the date your Consent to Sue form is filed in Court. The statute of limitations for the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Act claims stopped running when Plaintiffs filed their Complaint.

How do I join the case?

To bring claims under the FLSA and/or the D.C. Minimum Wage Act for back wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages, you must affirmatively join the case by filing a Consent to Sue. Employees alleging violations under the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Act will be automatically included in the case only if the Court certifies the class action. Note that the recovery under the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Act may be less than under the FLSA and/or the Minimum Wage Act.

Do I have to pay to join the case?

No. The attorneys are handling this case on a contingent basis and will only be paid when we win through a settlement or final judgment. Under both the FLSA and D.C. Labor Laws, when plaintiffs win an overtime case, GWU must pay the plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys’ fees.

Can I wait to file my Consent to Sue form?

You are not part of the case until your Consent to Sue Form is returned to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and then filed with the Court. If you delay in filing the Consent to Sue, part or all of your claim may be barred by the “statute of limitation.” Once a Notice is authorized by the Court, you must generally return the Consent to Sue form within the terms of the notice or the Court may not allow you to join this case.

Can GWU fire me or take action against me for joining the case?

The law prohibits retaliation for joining an overtime lawsuit. If any employee suffered retaliation, GWU would be liable for at least double the injury caused to the employee, and possibly additional damages. Notify us immediately if you think any retaliation occurs. Retaliation is rare in overtime cases, because an employer can suffer such serious penalties.

What work locations are covered by this lawsuit?

The FLSA claims in this lawsuit cover every worksite nationwide in the U.S.A. If you worked for GWU anywhere in the country, you can bring FLSA claims in this case. D.C. Labor Law claims covers only work in the District.

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