Westlaw Sued for Overtime by Reference Attorney

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By Jon Steingart

Oct. 5 — A former reference attorney for Thomson Reuters’ West Publishing Corp. sued the company alleging he wasn’t paid overtime and was fired for discussing pay concerns with his co-workers ( Brennan v. Thomson Reuters (Legal) Inc. , D. Minn., No. 0:16-cv-03361, complaint filed 10/5/16 ).

As a reference attorney for the Westlaw service, Tyler Brennan staffed a telephone help desk for clients, his attorney, Joshua A. Newville of Madia Law LLC in Minneapolis, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 5. Brennan says he was paid only half his regular rate for hours beyond 40 in one week, rather than one-and-a-half times as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Brennan raised concerns about his pay with supervisors, who told him he wasn’t entitled to overtime because he was a salaried employee. Brennan claims he was subjected to restrictions that weren’t placed on his colleagues, such as having to get permission to leave his workstation to use the restroom.

Brennan said he was fired shortly after he began discussing pay concerns with co-workers in retaliation for raising the issue. The company failed to deliver his final paycheck, in addition to failing to pay him correct overtime for earlier weeks, he alleges.

Thomson Reuters recently revised its policies and pays reference attorneys the correct overtime rate, Brennan’s attorney told Bloomberg BNA. This is evidence that the company knew it wasn’t paying Brennan properly, he said.

A Thomson Reuters spokesman told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 5 that the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. An attorney hasn’t entered an appearance for the company.

Bloomberg BNA is among Thomson Reuters’ competitors.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com

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