Thursday, July 12, 2012

Scranton, PA Becomes Employment Law Ground Zero

Scranton, PA is perhaps best known as the hometown of the fictional company Dunder Mifflin from The Office. It's actually a real town, and I have found that it has a certain charm. Recently, Scranton has drawn enormous media attention because its mayor cut all city employees' pay to minimum wage, $7.25/hour, because the city is out of money.

To absolutely nobody's surprise, this has led to lawsuits:
  • FLSA Overtime Lawsuit (complaint here): This is a collective FLSA action alleging that the city's employees are not receiving their overtime pay. The named plaintiffs are fire fighters, police, and public works employees.
  • Disability Benefits Lawsuit (complaint here): Under Pennsylvania's Heart and Lung Act, police officers and fire fighters can collect certain disability benefits when they are injured in the line of duty. This lawsuit, filed by police and fire fighters, claims the plaintiff had their disability benefits unilaterally cut to minimum wage without any type of due process (in violation of the Constitution).
  • Petition for Civil Contempt (available here): The workers file a petition for contempt against the city and mayor for violating a previously obtained preliminary injunction. The injunction provided in part that the city was prohibited from "reducing and/or withholding the wages of City of Scranton fire fighters, police officers and employees of the Department of Public Works below that specifically provided by the . . . collective bargaining agreements.
Those are the only worker lawsuits I'm aware of . . . for now. The mayor has his own lawsuit (complaint here) trying to compel city officials to "take immediate action regarding the passage of the Revised Recovery Plan." We'll see how this thing plays out . . . .

Image: I took that photo in Scranton, PA. It shows the Lackawanna County Courthouse (PA State Court) in the foreground and the Middle District of Pennsylvania (federal court) in the background.

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