Court: Airline’s workers can’t sue as class in pay dispute

Headline Legal News

American Airlines workers at Newark’s airport who claim in a lawsuit they’ve been shorted on overtime pay can’t sue as a class, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The three-judge panel’s decision published Tuesday reversed a New Jersey judge’s ruling that would have allowed the lawsuit to go forward and include all non-exempt hourly workers employed at Newark Liberty International Airport since April 2014.

Several employees, including mechanics and workers responsible for tasks such as cargo handling, filed the suit in 2016 and said American’s timekeeping system automatically paid employees based on their schedules rather than on the hours they actually worked.

They also alleged managers regularly refused to authorize overtime pay for work performed before and after scheduled shifts and during scheduled 30-minute lunch breaks. The lawsuit sought back pay as well as punitive damages. American denied the allegations.

The appeals court sided with the airline, which argued that while the timekeeping system applied to all employees, it would be wrong to group all employees into a class because it would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis which employees worked overtime.

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