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COA: Department of Labor should review claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found that a woman’s lawsuit for unpaid wages should have first been brought before the Indiana Department of Labor before she filed her action.

In Brandy L. Walczak v. Labor Works-Fort Wayne, LLC, d/b/a Labor Works, No. 02A04-1109-PL-509, Brandy Walczak, who filed her suit on her behalf and all others similarly situated, appealed the grant of summary judgment for Labor Works – Fort Wayne. Labor Works provides temporary day-laborer services to business. Those who seek work assignments for the day must show up at Labor Work’s facility that morning and there is no guarantee there will be work. Walczak sought work sporadically through Labor Works over the course of nearly four months. She was hired to work one day. She filed her lawsuit in February 2010 alleging violations of the Wage Payment Statute and the Wage Deduction Statute.

Labor Works filed for summary judgment, claiming Walczak didn’t have the right to file the lawsuit and the court didn’t have jurisdiction over her claim.

The appellate court reversed summary judgment, finding that she had to first submit her claim to the Department of Labor for resolution.

“The determination of whether, when she filed her complaint in the instant action, Walczak was separated from the payroll by Labor Works within the meaning of the Wage Claims Statute is a question of fact, not a matter of statutory interpretation,” wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

The judges held that this type of fact-sensitive inquiry should be resolved in the first instance by the administrative agency. The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claims until the DOL had made a determination on that question.

The COA ordered the trial court to dismiss the complaint.

 

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