Man says lounge failed to pay him, others overtime

By Audrey Holsclaw | Sep 11, 2008

CLARKSBURG -- A Harrison County man has filed a federal lawsuit after his employer failed to pay him and his co-workers for years worth of overtime.

Jeffrey McDougal, who works for the Stonewood High Life Lounge, is suing the owner, Cynthia Woodward, High Life Lounge, and its parent company, G&S Tobacco Dealers. He has worked for High Life since November 2004 and was promoted to manager in August 2006.

According to the suit, once he was promoted to manager, he was paid a fixed salary, but found himself working between 50 and 75 hours per week instead of the agreed upon 40.

McDougal alleges that the managerial duties are, in fact, non-managerial.

The suit states that the main duties of a High Life Lounge manager include cleaning machines, ashtrays, and restrooms; waiting on customers; cooking; deposits of video poker machine income; receiving and handling numerous phone calls from employees throughout the day and night; and paperwork. The managers are also not responsible for other employees.

Filed on Aug. 28, the suit states that Woodward, High Life Lounge, and G&S Tobacco Dealers have maintained and enforced a policy that prohibits their managers from keeping track of hours worked in excess of 45 hours per week.

McDougal alleges he was required to travel to the Stonewood location at least three times a week at different hours in the middle of the night to unlock machines. He states in the suit that he was not compensated for his time or mileage spent during those trips, averaging an hour.

Filed by Thomas Dyer of the Clarksburg firm of Dyer Law Offices and Michelle Massingale of the Charlotte firm of Sellers, Hinshaw, Ayers, Dortch & Lyons, the suit alleges that Woodward, High Life Lounge, and G&S Tobacco Dealers tried to get around Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA)overtime benefits by naming him and others as managers and paying them on a salary.

However, McDougal and the other managers, as stated previously, perform non-managerial duties and are eligible for FLSA overtime benefits.

He alleges that the actions of Woodward, High Life Lounge, and G&S Tobacco Dealers to conceal the true status of its managers are fraudulent and deceptive and have not made a good faith effort to comply with FLSA.

Filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia because of federal jurisdiction over FLSA, McDougal is seeking a trial by jury to award orders holding the defendants jointly and severally liable for back pay damages, liquidated damages and penalties, litigation costs, and compensatory damages; and an award of punitive damages for refusing to reimburse McDougal for mileage and other expenses incurred.

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