Court shuts down GW’s attempt to quash lawsuit

The U.S. District Court rejected Monday GW’s attempt to disband a lawsuit claiming the University shortchanged employees.

David Driscoll, the former executive coordinator in the Office of Teaching and Learning, is alleging the University owes him overtime pay from 2011. His attorneys will make a case to the court for the lawsuit to become a collective action Sept. 20.

Driscoll said he only received 24 hours of overtime pay for two years’ worth of earned overtime hours, according to the complaint, and said other employees faced the same fate.

The University reclassified a total of four positions to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and D.C. labor codes. Federal law requires payback for two years of overtime to affected employees, while District laws call for payment to extend three years back.

Michael Sweeney, an attorney for labor law firm Getman Sweeney, said GW did not think the claim would be upheld in court.

“What the George Washington University was trying to do was to get the claims dismissed before any discoveries take place,” Sweeney said. “They were saying David’s claims were lame and they shouldn’t be provided to release information.”

The University argued Driscoll’s claims did not hold legal merit – pointing out an “unexplained delay” in bringing the case to court – and could not be proved, according to court documents.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard declined to comment, citing GW’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Sweeney said Driscoll’s party will meet with the University for the first time in court Sept. 27 – one of the first steps for a civil lawsuit like Driscoll’s to move forward. If the case is ruled as a collective action, all employees who fall under the four positions listed in the complaint would be notified and given the chance to opt in.

Bridgette Harkless, a former executive assistant in the GW Law School, and Jamie Lewis, executive associate in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, both filed complaints in May to join the lawsuit after Sweeney reached out to them.

“The Court should make a decision fairly quickly,” Sweeney said. “The endgame here for the George Washington University is to keep this as small as possible.”

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