From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
By Porter Wells
A former death investigator for the New Orleans coroner’s office won’t get a trial on her claims that she was wrongfully fired for complaining on Facebook about unpaid overtime hours.
As social media use balloons, so do problems for workers who use it while off duty. In March 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a fire department chief fired after making gun control comments on Facebook couldn’t claim First Amendment retaliation protections because the department’s interests in efficiency, safety, and avoiding workplace disruptions outweighed his free speech interest.
Death investigator Jennifer Trigueros had to go out to investigate a fatality on New Year’s Eve 2016 after her shift had ended, according to her lawsuit. Trigueros then logged onto Facebook and posted a complaint about her co-workers and her lack of overtime pay. The coroner’s office fired her on January 9, 2017, because of the post.
In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Trigueros claimed that she should have received overtime pay and that her employer unlawfully retaliated against her for the Facebook post.
Judge Eldon Fallon said that while the post was indeed a complaint, “it was not a complaint directed in any way at her employer.” Trigueros also hadn’t asserted her right to overtime pay and asked for the protection of that right, Fallon said. Instead, the complaint “was focused on the unfair and/or inconsiderate behavior of a coworker,” Fallon said.
The Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees overtime pay at a rate of time-and-a-half for jobs classified as nonexempt under the act. Workers are protected from retaliation if they make complaints about their entitlement to overtime pay. But those complaints have to be directed to their employer to protect them from retaliation under the FLSA, not posted to a “general audience” of “friends and acquaintances,” Fallon said.
Attorneys for the parties didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s requests for comment.
Trigueros was represented by the Peragine Law Firm LLC in Covington, La. The City of New Orleans was represented by the City Attorney’s Office.
The case is Trigueros v. New Orleans City, 2018 BL 183305, E.D. La., No. 2:17-10960, opinion published 5/23/18.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)