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COVID-19 Employment Lawsuit: Florida Worker Alleges Workplace Safety Violations, Unpaid Overtime


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of life in South Florida, including workplace relations between employers and employees. In a recent case (Macke v. HT AirSystems of Florida), a worker has filed a lawsuit against a Central Florida contractor on the grounds that the company violated the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA).

The employee contends that the company violated labor law by both failing to provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and misclassifying him as overtime exempt. He also alleges that he was subject to unlawful retaliation after raising a complaint. In this article, our West Palm Beach employment lawyers discuss the allegations raised by the Florida worker. 

Case Review: Macke v. HT AirSystems of Florida 

Allegation: Coronavirus-Related Workplace Safety Violations 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is broadly defined as masks, gloves, garments, and other materials that help to ensure work safety. The proper protective equipment depends on the specific job being performed by the employee. In the era of the COVID-19 outbreak, PPE has become a major issue in the workplace. Employers have a basic duty to ensure that their workplace is reasonably safe for employees.

In this case, Mr. Macke alleges that HT AirSystems of Florida failed to provide him and his co-workers with adequate PPE—despite the fact he was considered an essential worker and performed duties during the course of the pandemic. In the lawsuit, the employee relies on OSHA’s so-called ‘General Duty’ clause which states that every covered employer has an obligation to protect workers from serious, recognized safety hazards. 

Allegation: Improper Classification as an Overtime Exempt Employee  

Beyond the alleged lack of PPE, Mr. Macke also contends that his Florida-based employer misclassified him as an overtime exempt employee in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He argues that he—and similarly situated co-workers—frequently worked 50 hours weeks in the position of air conditioning service technician. Yet, during the course of his employment he was classified as a salaried employee—meaning he was ineligible to receive overtime pay.

For the purposes of the FLSA’s overtime provisions, an employee classification must be based on their actual job duties—not simply the title of their position. From the complaint, HT AirSystem of Florida classified Mr. Macke as an overtime exempt employee, at least in part, because he allegedly had managerial duties. However, there is a dispute on this matter. Mr. Macke counters that he had no authority over other employees. In other words, his supposed managerial duties were largely in-name-only. As this a fact based question, the court must review the specific evidence at hand.

Call Our South Florida Unpaid Overtime Lawyers for Guidance

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida wage and hour attorneys have the skills, knowledge, and experience to handle the full range of FLSA claims. If you have any questions or concerns about unpaid overtime, we can help. For a strictly confidential, no commitment review of your employment law claim, please call us today. We handle FLSA claims throughout Southeastern Florida, including in West Palm Beach, Miami, and throughout the surrounding region.




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