Fifty laid-off nuclear plant workers have settled their Fair Labor Standards Act claims against a major engineering and construction firm and will receive $1.59 million in overtime back pay, their attorneys report.
According to plaintiffs’ attorneys William Applegate IV of Yarborough Applegate in Charleston and Amy Gaffney of Gaffney, Lewis, and Edwards in Columbia, thousands of contractors working for Fluor Enterprises were terminated without notice in July 2017 when South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper abruptly stopped construction on the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant near Jenkinsville. The $9 billion project included the construction of two nuclear reactors at the Fairfield County site.
Just weeks after the layoff, those workers filed a Worker and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) class action lawsuit against Fluor, the leading construction contractor on the project, and WECTEC, a subsidiary of the nuclear energy company Westinghouse. The plaintiffs sought damages for not receiving the 60-day notice required by federal law, the release states, adding that Fluor employees were “among the hardest hit by the shutdown.”
The dispute involving the alleged WARN Act violations remains unresolved. But the plaintiffs’ attorneys say that during the investigation into those claims, they discovered that Fluor had withheld overtime pay for a group of employees for extended periods, which led to the FLSA claims for the 50 workers involved in the settlement.
Applegate said that he believes that his clients are entitled to “significant damages,” and that he and his co-counsel are pleased that this portion of the case was resolved in a timely manner and that his clients were able to get the money they were owed.
“This is especially important due to the fact that many of our clients are still in the process of seeking new employment and even relocating after giving years of service to Fluor,” he said. “Furthermore, we look forward to continuing to represent the entire class of thousands of employees in the remaining lawsuit on the WARN Act claims.”
Attorneys for the defense did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow Heath Hamacher on Twitter @SCLWHamacher
SETTLEMENT REPORT — FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT
Amount: $1.59 million
Case name: Preston et al. v. Fluor Enterprises, Inc.
Case No.: 0:17-2184-TLW
Court: U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
Date of settlement: July 1
Attorneys for plaintiff: William Applegate IV of Yarborough Applegate in Charleston and Amy Gaffney of Gaffney, Lewis, and Edwards in Columbia
Attorney for defendant: J. Hagood Tighe of Fisher Phillips in Columbia