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Texas Farm Bureau Overtime Litigation Lawyers

Williams Hart is honored to announce its new campaign to protect the working conditions of Texas Farm Bureau insurance agents in the growing lawsuit known as English v. Texas Farm Bureau et al. The basis for the lawsuit is straightforward. The working conditions of these current and former agents entitle them to overtime pay for overtime worked under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What working conditions give rise to the suit? The Agents maintain that while they were promised that they would be their own bosses in charge of their own businesses, the reality is that Texas Farm Bureau controlled their work like a regular employee. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, agents who are treated like employees have a federal right to receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. If are an agent in this situation, contact the Texas Farm Bureau unpaid overtime attorneys with Williams Hart to learn more about how you may be able to recover overtime pay you are owed. Call (713) 230-2384 to set up your free consultation.

Understanding Employment Under the FLSA

Just like any other private employer, Texas Farm Bureau is bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act, one of the most important federal laws regulating the employer-employee relationship. One of the law’s major provisions requires employers to pay 1.5 times normal pay to any employee who works more than 40 hours in a given week. There are exemptions for workers who are ‘independent contractors,’ meaning that they have a looser relationship with the employer, which leads many companies to go out of their way to classify workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying for benefits such as overtime. However, classifying a worker who is truly an employee as an independent contractor in order to skirt regulations is illegal. When determining whether a worker should be classified as an employee, courts consider the ‘totality of circumstances’ of their relationship with the company, including:

  • How essential their work is to the company’s operations
  • What impact the worker’s managerial skills have on their earnings
  • Whether the worker is making their own significant investment in equipment and facilities
  • Whether the worker uses their own business judgment on the job and/or is competing with other skilled workers for employment
  • How permanent the relationship between the worker and the company is
  • How much control the company has over the worker’s hours, payment amount, etc.

There’s no magic number of boxes a working relationship needs to tick before it’s considered true, full-time employment. However, if the answers to many of these questions make it appear that the worker is more dependent on the company than independent of it, there is a good chance that a court will rule that the worker is an employee and not an independent contractor. If this happens in the Texas Farm Bureau case, the company will be forced to pay its agents overtime and may also be forced to pay additional damages to agents who join in the suit.

Qualifying for a Texas Farm Bureau Overtime Lawsuit

Agents working for Texas Farm Bureau are joining this class action lawsuit because the company is refusing them overtime pay without treating them independently in many of the respects the courts typically consider to be important. If the Agents are able to prove that they are dependent on the company as employees, despite the company’s claims to the contrary, they will be entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. The Agents are alleging they have been treated like employees and not business owners because:

  • Texas Farm Bureau provides these agents with company facilities, computers, front-office staff, e-mail addresses, and business cards;
  • Texas Farm Bureau contractually bars these agents from selling insurance for other insurance companies during their tenure and from competing within 50 miles of their branch for two years following their termination of employment;
  • Texas Farm Bureau effectively requires agents to work over 40 hours a week—selling insurance out of Texas Farm Bureau branch facilities during business hours and then performing after-hours work like photographing properties in underwriting and meeting with policyholders to perform mandated member reviews; and
  • Texas Farm Bureau closely monitors, micromanages, and effectively controls the work schedules of these agents in terms of hours worked, vacation, and other planned time off.

If you are a Texas Farm Bureau agent and have experienced this kind of treatment by the company without receiving overtime pay, you may qualify to join the lawsuit. Agents are joining the Texas Farm Bureau lawsuit without fear because federal law prohibits employers like Texas Farm Bureau from retaliating against agents for making a claim. Texas Farm Bureau insurance agents have nothing to lose by joining the legal action and may recover lost overtime pay in the process.

Furthermore, the Agents in English v. Texas Farm Bureau et al. are not the first group to accuse the company of unfair labor standards. A separate group of agency managers has already made similar allegations in another case, Ferguson v. Texas Farm Bureau et al., which was filed earlier last year. It seems the wagons may be circling for Texas Farm Bureau over its treatment of workers. If you are a Texas Farm Bureau agent in a similar situation, now could be the time to fight for the compensation you’re due.

What You Stand to Gain from a Texas Farm Bureau Overtime Lawsuit

Joining an unpaid overtime lawsuit could potentially help you to win the fair compensation you deserve, and then some. The exact amount of damages you would be able to recover depends on how much overtime pay you’ve rightfully earned. If a federal court agrees that the Agents in the Texas Farm Bureau case are being treated as employees and are therefore entitled to overtime pay, anyone who joins the suit stands to earn a serious sum of money in back pay and penalties.

The FLSA requires 1.5 times normal pay for any hours beyond 40 worked in a single week. This means that if Texas Farm Bureau paid you at your normal rate for any hours beyond 40 in a single week, you could be entitled to an additional 50 percent of your normal rate for every hour of overtime you’ve worked for them. Additionally, in Texas, companies found to violate the FLSA in unpaid overtime cases are often forced to pay ‘liquidated damages’ equal to the amount of unpaid overtime as a penalty for their unfair treatment of workers. This means that, in effect, you could stand to win a total of twice the amount of overtime pay Texas Farm Bureau owes you.

Let’s consider an example. Suppose Fred is a Texas Farm Bureau agent making $20 an hour, and that he has been regularly working 45 hours a week without overtime pay. If a court determines that Fred is an employee rather than an independent contractor, he is entitled to an extra $10 per hour for those extra 5 hours he worked beyond the federal 40-hour work week, or an extra $50 per week. Suppose Fred has been working these long hours without overtime for an entire year. With 52 weeks in a year, he could win $2,600 in unpaid overtime alone. Factor in liquidated damages and he could win another $2,600 for a grand total of $5,200 from Texas Farm Bureau. The actual amount that you could win depends on your hourly wage and the amount of overtime you’ve actually worked, but let Fred serve as an example of how you could be heavily compensated for Texas Farm Bureau’s failure to pay you overtime should the lawsuit succeed.

Contact a Texas Farm Bureau Unpaid Overtime Lawyer

Our nation’s labor laws are there to protect hard workers like you from unfair treatment by employers. An experienced overtime pay lawyer from Williams Hart can help you understand your rights as a worker. If you’re a former or current Texas Farm Bureau agent and you think you may also qualify for overtime pay, please fill out this form. We’ll tell you free of charge whether you can join the effort to get overtime pay you may be entitled to under federal law.

At Williams Hart, we are committed to helping hardworking Texans get the compensation they’ve earned, and this overtime pay lawsuit against Texas Farm Bureau is a part of that commitment. Our Texas Farm Bureau overtime pay attorneys are ready to stand up for your rights and increase your chances of being compensated for unpaid overtime. Contact Williams Hart online or call us today at (713) 230-2384 to learn about how we help employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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