CLARKSBURG – Eleven current and former managers of video poker parlors throughout central West Virginia have filed separate federal lawsuits against the parlors and their owner, alleging they worked more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay and were not paid mileage.
All the suits, which are nearly identical and filed on July 29 and July 30, name Jass Video Investments, doing business as High Life Lounge, and Cynthia Woodward as defendants. In all but one of the suits, G&S Tobacco Dealers, doing business as High Life Lounge, is also named as a defendant.
In their complaints, the plaintiffs claims they either used to work or still currently work as managers for High Life Lounge and Woodward. High Life Lounge locations are scattered throughout Clarksburg, Stonewood, Mt. Clare, Bridgeport, Fairmont, Mannington, Weston, Kingwood, Morgantown, Westover, Star City, Elkins and Buckhannon.
At each parlor, High Life Lounge and Woodward employ at least one worker who is paid a fixed salary and works as manager, according to the complaints.
However, the manager's primary duties include non-managerial tasks, such as cleaning machines, cleaning ashtrays, bottle cans and disposables around the machines, cleaning restrooms and waiting on customers, the suits state.
"Pursuant to Defendants' uniform and companywide policies and practices, the Managers do not customarily and regularly direct the work of two or more full-time employees or their equivalent in any given week," the complaints say.
As managers, each of the plaintiffs claim they were required to work between 50 to 85 hours per week for a set salary. They did not receive any overtime compensation, according to the complaints.
A policy at High Life Lounge prohibits managers from keeping track of more than 45 hours worked per week, the suits state.
The plaintiffs also claim they were routinely required to travel to different High Life Lounge locations in the middle of the night to unlock machines and tend to trouble-shooting matters. In addition, they had to make bank deposits on a daily basis. After these trips, the plaintiffs were not compensated for mileage, according to the complaints.
High Life Lounge's and Woodward's failure to pay managers for overtime hours worked and their failure to pay mileage are violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, the suits state.
"The Defendants have intentionally and repeatedly misrepresented the true status of the managerial compensation to its employees as well as their entitlement to managerial overtime compensation in order to avoid suspicion and inquiry by employees regarding their entitlement to monies owed to them," the complaints say.
Named as plaintiffs in the complaints are Nicole Benson, Scott Michael Brown, Vanette Broadstock, Heather Johnson, Felicia Mike, Emma Jean Nixon, Georgia Louis Poling, Cassandra Zecco, Jessica Young, Judy Scott and Mauria Fletcher.
In the complaints, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting the defendants from engaging in future FLSA violations. They are also seeking an order holding the defendants liable for back pay and liquidated damages and penalties.
In addition, the plaintiffs are asking for punitive damages, costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.
Thomas G. Dyer of Dyer Law Offices in Clarksburg and Michelle Price Massingale of Sellers, Hinshaw, Ayers, Dortch and Lyons in Charlotte, N.C., will be representing the plaintiffs.
U.S. District Court case numbers: 1:09-cv-102, 1:09-cv-103, 1:09-cv-104, 1:09-cv-106, 1:09-cv-107, 1:09-cv-108, 1:09-cv-109, 1:09-cv-110, 2:09-cv-92, 1:09-cv-111, 1:09-cv-112