Law Suit Shows the Danger of Disregarded Employment Law

President Trump Sued for Unpaid Overtime

In July 2018, President Donald Trump learned the danger of disregarding employment law when he was sued by his long-time, personal chauffeur for unpaid overtime. In this case, Trump did not abide by state and federal wage and hour rules.

Reportedly, chauffeur Noel Cintron was “forced to work thousands of hours of overtime without compensation,”1 anywhere from 50-55 hours per week.  He would begin at 7:00 a.m., five days a week, and stay until Trump, his family, or business associates no longer needed Cintron’s services.

In 2003, Cintron received a salary of $62,700 which was raised in 2006 to $68,000.  In 2010, his salary was increased to $75,000 but only because he would no longer receive health benefits (accounting for approximately $18,000 in health insurance premiums).  While the statute of limitations only allowed Cintron to make a claim for the last six years, his legal team estimated Cintron was owed $170,000 for 3,300 hours of uncompensated overtime.

Cintron also claimed that Trump did not provide proper annual wage notices required by the New York labor law.  This incurred penalties of $50 per week for every week that Cintron was not given the notice, resulting in a potential fine of  $2,500-5,000.

While Cintron dropped the case by submitting to arbitration for resolution, his case is a relevant reminder to employers with non-exempt employees to adhere to state and federal wage and hour laws. Keep in mind that neither employees nor employers are able to “wave” these laws and regulations.  Even if an employee believes and claims that they have been treated fairly, that same employee can change their mind and seek legal recourse against the employer.

Employees can also be unsuspecting.  This was Trump’s chauffeur for over twenty years. Given his long tenure, there is no reason to assume that he was dissatisfied. Yet, there came a point where Cintron decided that he deserved to be compensated as required under the law and move forward with a legal claim.

What does this mean for you as an employer?  Simply because nonexempt employees have accepted their income for decades does not mean that they forfeited their rights to overtime pay or any other employment law right, which they may have passively accepted in the past.

If you have questions about wage and hours laws or employment law in general, please contact our firm.

This article is provided for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice for a specific situation.  If you are in need of specific advice or legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

©2019 Bea & VandenBerk