Business Monday: More drivers join suit against Shaun’s Towing | AspenTimes.com

Business Monday: More drivers join suit against Shaun’s Towing

Broken down auto vehicle car towed onto flatbed tow truck with hook and chain

More truck drivers are lining up to form a class-action lawsuit against Shaun's Towing and Recovery because they say they weren't paid for overtime work, but defense attorneys say federal law exempts them from receiving the extra compensation.

At issue is a federal suit filed in December by former Shaun's Towing employee Joseph Durrant.

Durrant's suit, which says it was filed "on behalf of all others similarly situated" who have worked for Shaun's Towing, is aiming to recoup unpaid overtime and other damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The plaintiff's next step is to achieve class-action certification with the court's approval. They got rolling with that effort July 23 by filing a motion seeking certification that would force Shaun's Towing to provide them the names and contact information for all of the business's drivers over the past three years.

With that information, the plaintiffs would have 60 days to notify the drivers about joining the class action.

Since the suit's filing in the U.S. District Court of Denver, a combination of four current and former truck drivers have opted in the lawsuit, court documents show.

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Those employees, the suit alleges, would often work more than 40 hours a week while receiving base pay and commission every two weeks.

"They never received the FLSA-required overtime premiums for hours worked over 40 in a workweek," the motion says.

Durrant, who worked as a driver with Shaun's Towing from August 2015 until February 2016, earned $13 an hour plus 30 percent commission, but he wasn't paid for what the suit calls "the required rate of time-and-one-half for all hours worked over 40 each workweek."

The motion adds that "based on their conversations with other tow truck drivers, Plaintiffs believe that other current and former tow truck drivers employed by Defendants would be interested about joining this lawsuit."

Attorney's for Shaun's towing are fighting the motion and have until Aug. 27 to answer it.

In their formal reply to the original complaint earlier this year, Shaun's Towing and owner Shaun Healy, through The Porto Law firm of Kansas City, Missouri, argued that the Durrant and other employees "are exempt from receiving overtime compensation under the FLSA as they are subject to the Motor Carrier Act Exemption."

The Motor Carrier Act exempts employees who work overtime, provided they are involved in interstate commerce through driving activities, from receiving time-and-a-half pay.

Shaun's Towing argues that Durrant "was a tow truck driver and at all times in his employee with the defendants he either personally went over state lines to perform jobs on behalf of the defendants or he reasonably could have been expected to drive across state lines to perform jobs on behalf of the defendants."

Durrant's motion from July 23, however, claims that employees of Shaun's Towing "were tasked with performing towing services exclusively within the state of Colorado."

Shaun's Towing started in 2005 and serves the entire Roaring Fork Valley. It also has an agreement with the city of Aspen through which the city pays Shaun's $185 to tow vehicles to the impound lot at the Pitkin County Landfill, while the violator pays the city $200. Shaun's also receives $145 to impound cars in town, with the violator paying the city $160, according to city records.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com