This labor law class action brings suit against Solar Energy World, LLC and its owner and president, Tope Lala, its CEO, Geoff Mirkin, and another individual connected with the company, Aloysius E. Gleeson. The complaint alleges that Solar Energy World has violated both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (MWHL) in the way they counted hours and the way they paid their workers.
The FLSA Collective Class for this action is all individuals who worked as solar panel installers or solar panel electricians employed by Solar Energy World since July 8, 2016. The MWHL Class is the same.
Solar Energy World sells and installs solar panels in the Maryland and Washington, DC area. The plaintiffs in this case are employed as Solar Installers and Company Electricians who install the panels at the buyers’ locations.
At first, the installers are hired at an hourly rate. After a short training period, the company may convert their method of pay from hourly to a per-panel rate. Sometimes the company pays whichever rate is lower. However, the complaint says that even per-panel rates do not exempt the company from the requirements of the FLSA and MWHL.
Each workday, the installers arrive at the company at 6:00 a.m. to receive their assignments and load the company vehicles. Then they drive to their work locations, which typically are at least an hour away, according to the complaint. Their average finish time for the day is 4:00 p.m. at the work site. The company thus outlines their workday as being ten hours, or fifty hours in a five-day week.
However, the complaint claims that they often have to stay on to finish their current jobs, so that a day sometimes lasts twelve or thirteen hours. Then they must drive the vehicles back to the company, which means another hour plus. Finally, they are often required to work weekends. They are not paid for any of this additional time, even though it adds up to a workweek of about seventy hours.
When workers asked about overtime, the complaint says, “they were told ‘we don’t pay overtime,’ and/or suffered much harder installations for a period of time…” They were also told not to record their return drives on their timesheets. This is, as the complaint says, a “direct violation of the law.”
“Furthermore,” the complaint adds, “when Installers inquired about the punctuality of their pay, or the method of pay, they were given an excuse, and/or suffered retaliation in the way of much harder installations for a period of time…”
The company also sometimes required them to return to a location, if a customer expressed concerns, and do additional work there without any pay at all.