Southwest Gas is a company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a company engaged in the business of purchasing, transporting and distributing natural gas. As the largest distributor of natural gas in Nevada and Arizona, it provides natural gas service to over 2 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the metropolitan areas of Arizona, Nevada, and California. Defendant operates and has operated call centers in Las Vegas and other locations where telephone-dedicated employees—customer service Dispatchers—handle phone calls with homeowners and technicians on a daily basis to resolve gas issues.
Position(s): Hourly-Paid Dispatchers
Location(s): Arizona, Nevada, California
Time Period: June 7, 2015 – present
The Claims in the Lawsuit
The lawsuit alleges that Defendant failed to properly compensate Dispatchers for time spent working pre-shift and post-shift performing their general duties, thus forcing them to work off the clock and depriving them of overtime compensation. These general duties include logging onto the computer system, initiating certain software applications necessary to begin their call center duties and continuing to perform their general duties well after their shift ended until their replacements arrived to handoff their assignment.
The lawsuit further alleges that Defendant failed to incorporate compensation paid to Dispatchers as shift differentials into their regular rates of pay, for purposes of calculating their hourly overtime rates. Under FLSA, the regular rate is the “keystone” to calculating the overtime rate. Walling v. Youngerman-Reynolds Hardwood Co., 325 U.S. 419 (1945). The regular hourly rate of pay is determined by dividing the employee’s total remuneration for employment (except statutory exclusions) in any workweek by the total number of hours actually worked by the employee in that workweek for which such compensation was paid. See 29 C.F.R. § 778.108. The shift differentials Defendant paid Dispatchers for working second and third shifts did not meet any of the criteria in 29 U.S.C. § 207(e) for exclusion from the regular rate.
June 7, 2018: the case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, and has been assigned to Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey.
January 23, 2019: we filed a Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class and Collective Action Settlement, which seeks the Court’s approval of a settlement under which payments would be available to all Dispatchers who worked for Southwest Gas between June 22, 2015 and October 2018. If the settlement is approved, eligible dispatchers will receive further information about the settlement and will have the option to submit claims, opt out, or object.
How to Participate
If you believe you are owed wages from the claims in the lawsuit, you can join the case by signing a Consent to Sue form, which you can obtain by contacting us.
Until the Consent to Sue form is filed with the Court, the statute of limitations ordinarily continues to run. The statute of limitations under the Fair Labor Standards Act is 2 years, and 3 years for willful violations. Thus, if you claim wages from 2 or more years ago, they may become unrecoverable if you delay in signing your Consent to Sue form.
If you choose to join this lawsuit, you will be bound by any judgment on any claim you may have under the Fair Labor Standards Act, whether favorable or unfavorable. This means that if you win, you may be eligible to share in the monetary award; if you lose, no money will be awarded and you will not be able to file another lawsuit regarding the matters raised in the lawsuit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Defendant discipline or fire me if I join the case?
No! The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits retaliation and imposes harsh measures against employers who retaliate. For further information, please consult the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet.
Will I have to testify or provide documentary proof?
Not necessarily. Many employees obtain monetary recoveries in Fair Labor Standards Act cases without ever having to appear at court or for depositions.
You are not required to provide documentary proof of your unpaid wages. In most cases, the employer is required to provide the employee’s payroll records to the employee and his or her attorney. In fact, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers keep accurate time and payroll records. The employer cannot escape this duty by requiring you as the employee to provide proof.
However, it is still important that you preserve any physical or electronic evidence relating to the case that you currently possession.
Will JTB Law Group be my attorneys?
Employees who sign Retainer Agreements and/or Consent to Sue forms will be represented by JTB Law Group with respect to the lawsuit and claims described above.
You will not be required to pay any attorneys’ fees or court costs to the Plaintiffs’ lawyers at this time and not pay any attorneys’ fees unless you prevail. Rather, in the event the Plaintiffs prevail in the lawsuit, by either judgment or settlement, the Plaintiffs’ attorneys will request that the Court order Defendant(s) to pay the Plaintiffs’ lawyers their reasonable attorneys’ fees and reimburse them for any expenses.
How long will the case take?
It is very difficult to predict exactly how long a case will take. It depends on a variety of factors including the number of parties and claims involved, the rules and pace of the court, the complexity of the proofs, and the manner in which the employer defends the case.
When and if a settlement is reached, additional time is needed to prepare settlement documents, calculate settlement allocations, and seek and await the court’s review and approval of the settlement. Wage-and-hour cases typically take 2-3 years, but this can be shorter or increase considerably.