A Georgia Delivery Driver Wins Payment of Post-Judgment Collection Costs and Fees Following a Successful FLSA Claim

Food delivery drivers frequently can be the victims of Fair Labor Standards Act violations. That can include improperly underpaying drivers who use their personal vehicles for deliveries (by paying them only the minimum wage and then not properly paying them for the vehicle expenses they incur,) or illegally underpaying them as a result of misclassification as exempt employees when they really were non-exempt. Whether you’re a driver who believes your employer denied you the pay that you were owed under the law, or you’re an employer seeking to ensure that your pay practices are compliant with relevant laws, if you have questions about the FLSA, you should seek out knowledgeable answers from an experienced Atlanta age and hour lawyer.

One of those underpaid workers was A.N., a North Georgia pizza delivery driver, who filed to arbitrate a claim that the employer had illegally underpaid him in violation of the FLSA in 2019. The next year, an arbitrator sided with the driver and concluded that he had suffered $5,198 in actual damages. Coupled with $5,198 in liquidated damages and $153,867 in attorneys’ fees and costs, the total award was $164,264. The federal court for the Northern District of Georgia affirmed the award.

The employer, however, refused to pay. That forced the driver to bring a collection suit in federal court in Missouri, which the employer contested. The driver ultimately succeeded in collecting the judgment but spent an additional $53,934 to do so. The driver, in pursuit of the collection of those expenses, returned to the Northern District court on a motion for fees and costs.

The court pointed out that the FLSA is a “fee-shifting” statute, which means that a worker who prevails on an FLSA claim is “automatically entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs” incurred in securing a judgment. In this case, the question was whether a successful worker could collect post-judgment fees and costs.

Prejudgment Vs. Post-Judgment Collection

The judge said that he could. The court pointed out that the FLSA contained no wording indicating that successful workers could only recover prejudgment fees and costs, and not post-judgment fees and costs. The court was persuaded by a 2009 district court ruling that declared that the FLSA “provides statutory authority not only to award fees in the initial action but also in any action . . . to enforce the judgment obtained in that initial action.”

Several other federal courts have ruled similarly, concluding that all reasonable steps undertaken in getting the employer to pay what the worker was owed — both prejudgment and post-judgment efforts — are compensable. As one judge explained, without an award of post-judgment fees, a “judgment is a hollow victory for a plaintiff who was improperly paid.”

Delivery drivers represent one industry where FLSA violations can be common, but it is far from the only one. These violations may arise from intentional employer misconduct or may simply result from inadequate recordkeeping. Either way, these violations can be very costly, so it pays to get the knowledgeable legal advice and counsel you need to protect yourself and your interests. The experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to do exactly that… both for employers seeking to ensure compliance and for workers wronged by illegal underpayment. Contact us today at 404-873-8048 or through this website to schedule a consultation.

Contact Information