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Is My Case Worth Pursuing? The Answer May Surprise You

StoplightHave you been treated unfairly by your employer but feel like your claim is too small for anyone to care?  Based on a recent case in Millville, New Jersey, it may be time to think again.

People are sometimes reticent to approach a lawyer even when they know they’ve been treated unfairly.  They see their claim as relatively small, especially when compared with the resources of their employer, and decide that the case isn’t worth their time or effort.  This isn’t always true, and if you think you’re being treated unfairly, then we urge you to contact one of our attorneys to set up a consultation.  Let’s look at a specific example of how a case like yours might be worth pursuing.

On November 7, 2011, a police captain ordered Patrolman Edmund Ansara to void an otherwise valid traffic ticket that he had written.  The person to whom the ticket had been written was connected to a local politician or police leadership.  Patrolman Ansara followed orders and voided the ticket.  Lieutenant Edward Zadroga refused to sign off on the void form and reported a ticket-fixing problem to the county prosecutor’s office.  After the complaint, Patrolman Ansara gave testimony to the prosecutor’s office regarding the allegedly fixed ticket.

Both Patrolman Ansara and Lieutenant Zadroga were harassed and retaliated against for their involvement in the investigation.  Other officers accused Patrolman Ansara of making up a ticket-fixing scheme, and his supervisors targeted him with inappropriate comments on a regular basis.

Patrolman Ansara was suspended from February 27, 2012 to March 17, 2013, or approximately 54 weeks.  It was projected that, had he been working during that time period, Patrolman Ansara would have accumulated $9,257.27 in overtime.  Patrolman Ansara’s disciplinary charges were later found to be unsustainable.

Patrolman Ansara and Lieutenant Zadroga filed suit against the city of Millville, alleging that they had been unfairly disciplined and harassed for their involvement in the ticket-fixing investigation.  And they did pretty well.

The Millville City Commission recently approved a settlement with Patrolman Ansara for the following:

  • the amount he was owed in lost overtime.
  • $35,000 from the City’s insurance fund.
  • $65,000 legal fees for Patrolman Ansara.

Keep in mind that, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), you can take action against your employer for as many as three years of unpaid overtime  wages or minimum wages.  If your employer willfully withheld your wages, then you may be entitled to liquidated damages doubling the back wages you’re owed.  You also are be entitled to seek attorneys fees and court costs when seeking these unpaid wages if you prevail in court.

In other words, even if you think that your initial claim is not worth very much, there may well be other factors at play that could be worth pursuing.  Our attorneys have experience litigating FLSA claims and will be able to help you understand whether taking legal action is right for you.

Patrolman Ansara’s initial claim was for just over nine thousand dollars in lost overtime.  The total settlement, including legal fees, amounted to nearly $110,000, or more than ten times his initial claim.  If your employer has failed to pay you, you should contact us to discuss your situation.