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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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