Recently, Riggan Law Firm, LLC, a St. Louis employment law firm, filed a class/collective action lawsuit on behalf of a group of St. Louis County Animal Control Officers, to recover unpaid wages for time that the employees worked off-the-clock, including unpaid work time before and after their shifts, as well as time they worked during automatically deducted meal periods. The plaintiffs assert claims for unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Missouri Minimum Wage Law, as well as claims for unpaid straight time wages under Missouri common law.
The lawsuit alleges that St. Louis County suffered or permitted the Animal Control Officers to spend time working without pay. The suit alleges that by virtue of the County's policy and practice, Animal Control Officers routinely worked shifts that lasted longer than eight hours, but they were only compensated for eight hours per shift. While thirty minutes each shift was theoretically reserved for employee meal periods, the Animal Control Officers' job-related duties, responsibilities and restrictions—such as responding to calls from dispatch, traveling from one assignment to the next, transporting animals, loading and unloading vehicles, and other various duties and responsibilities—routinely precluded them from taking an uninterrupted meal period. Further, according to the lawsuit, Animal Control Officers routinely performed work prior to the start of their scheduled shift and after the end of their scheduled shift, yet they were not compensated for said work time. As a result, they performed a significant amount of compensable work without pay, which is alleged to have violated both federal and Missouri law. The Animal Control Officers seek to recover unpaid wages, liquidated damages as provided for by federal and state law, attorneys' fees, and court costs.