Judge approves collective action labor lawsuit

The University will face a collective action lawsuit from employees who claim they were shortchanged, a U.S. District Court judge ruled last week.

David Driscoll, the former executive coordinator in the Office of Teaching and Learning, claims that the University owes him and others in similar positions overtime pay from 2011. The judge ruled that employees in three positions within the University may have been underpaid by the college and must be notified about the opportunity to join the lawsuit.

The ruling stripped down Driscoll’s original lawsuit, which would have included employees in five positions.

He claims that he received only 24 hours of overtime pay for two years’ worth of earned overtime hours, after GW conducted a review of its policies. He said other employees likely faced the same fate.

Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled Oct. 25 that the two employees who were booted from the collective action were not eligible to join the lawsuit, nor were employees who worked at GW prior to the review, Michael Sweeney, Driscoll’s attorney, said.

“The court has discretion on how they do these things, and the judge made a reasonable decision and we respect the decision,” Sweeney said. “That’s why we bring a class – because we want to help as many people as possible, but at the end of the day, the court has a decision to make.”

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard declined to comment on the judge’s ruling and the process going forward, citing a policy to not comment on pending litigation. Sweeney said the decision to exclude both parties was based on the University’s account that those positions did not earn overtime pay.

He added that he and GW must both submit a notice letter to the court by Friday, at which point a common letter will be agreed upon.

Because the class is collective action, all individuals qualifying for the classes would be notified and given 60 days to opt in. Sweeney said.

Collective action cases typically include responses from about 10 to 25 percent of the class, unlike class action cases in which individuals that qualify are automatically added to the suit.

“We would like everybody to join,” Sweeney said. “We think they’ve taken advantage of everyone involved and everyone is due additional back wages.”

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