Federal class action claims barge workers not paid overtime

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 19, 2006, 9:09am

J.D. Marchbanks filed a class action suit in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis Sept. 18, alleging Beelman River Terminals in Venice failed to pay overtime.

According to the complaint, Marchbanks and other members of the class are laborers who over the past three years had similar job duties such as spraying water to minimize dust from loads of coal and coke, tying down barges, cleaning the facility and loading and unloading barges at the facility.

"During the past three years, laborers at Beelman's Venice facility were routinely required to work far in excess of 40 hours per week, including a normal schedule of 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday," the complaint states.

Marchbanks also claims the employees were required to work six hours on Saturday and they were all paid an hourly wage.

"Laborers at the Venice facility were not compensated for any of the substantial overtime hours which they worked," the complaint alleges.

Represented by Michael Marker of the Rex Carr Law Firm in East St. Louis and Teresa Woody of Kansas City, the class is seeking compensatory damages, liquidated damages, attorneys' fees, interest and any other relief the court deems fair and equitable.

The case has been assigned to District Judge David Herndon.

On Dec. 10, 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division announced that seven employees of Beelman River Terminals, Inc. will receive back wages plus interest totaling $17,554 as part of a recent overtime pay settlement.

Ella M. Johnson, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in St. Louis, said the Labor Department's complaint filed in March alleged that from Jan. 15, 2000, to April 15, 2002, scale operators working more than 40 hours per week were paid straight time without a half-time premium as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In addition to the back wage settlement reached, Beelman River Terminals paid $3,715 in civil penalties for its repeated violations.

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