Lawsuit: Shaun’s Towing took employees for a ride
A class-action suit is brewing against Shaun’s Towing and Recovery, a valleywide service that stands accused of not paying overtime wages to its employees.
A former employee filed suit last week in Denver federal court “on behalf of all others similarly situated” who have worked for Shaun’s Towing. Shaun Healy, the owner of the business and also a defendant, said Tuesday he pays his employees “just like everybody else” but declined to comment further about the allegations.
Healy said he was unaware of the suit’s filing until notified of it by a reporter.
Shaun’s Towing, which started in 2005, serves the entire Roaring Fork Valley. The city of Aspen also reached a deal with Shaun’s in October to handle its towing work in 2018. Under the agreement, the city will pay Shaun’s $185 to tow vehicles to the impound lot at the Pitkin County Landfill, while the violator will pay the city $200. Shaun’s will receive $145 to impound cars in town, with the violator paying the city $160, according to city records.
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Spurring the suit is former Shaun’s Towing employee Joseph Durrant, who said in an affidavit, which is part of the complaint, that he will proceed with the case individually if it does not achieve class-action status. The suit is seeking employees who worked for the service since Dec. 6, 2014, “and were paid hourly plus commission, but did not receive overtime for all hours worked over 12 in a day and/or 40 in a week.”
The suit was filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Colorado Wage Claim Act and the Colorado Minimum Wage Act. Its goal is to “recover all unpaid overtime and other damages allowed under the FLSA” to Durrant and others who possibly join the suit.
Durrant worked as a driver for Shaun’s Towing from August 2015 until February 2016, earning $13 an hour plus a 30 percent commission payment for each tow, says the suit, which alleges he “did not receive overtime compensation at the required rate of time-and-one-half for all hours worked over 40 each workweek.”
The suit adds that Durrant and other employees “worked long hours,” often more than 50 a week.
Shaun’s Towing engaged in an “illegal pay practice” that violated state and federal labor laws, the suit argues.
“Shaun’s is a sophisticated party and employer, and therefore knew (or should have known) its policies were in violation of the FLSA,” the suit says. “(Durrant) and the FLSA Collective Members (potential future plaintiffs), on the other hand, are (and were) unsophisticated laborers who trusted Shaun’s to pay overtime in accordance with the law.”
The lead law firm representing Durrant is Anderson2X PLLC, which is based in Corpus Christi, Texas. The firm did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
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The coronavirus threat delayed the opening of developed campgrounds in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal valleys. The Forest Service will phase them back in by June 12.