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COA: Man needed to submit claim under Wage Claims Statute

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An employee’s status at the time he or she files the claim is the relevant inquiry in determining whether he or she proceeds under the Wage Payment Statute or the Wage Claims Statute, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Robert and Keisha Hollis, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, sued Defender Security Co., alleging Defender had violated the Wage Payment Statute by failing to pay agreed wages in a timely fashion. Several months earlier, Robert was “involuntarily separated” from Defender. The trial court dismissed Robert’s claims. Only his claims are at issue in this interlocutory appeal.

The Wage Payment Statute and Wage Claims Statute both deal with wage disputes, but involve different categories of claimants. The Wage Payment Statute refers to current employees and those who have voluntarily left employment. The Wage Claims Statute refers to employees who have been separated from work by their employer and employees whose work has been suspended as a result of an industrial dispute.

In Robert Hollis, et al. v. Defender Security Company, No. 49A02-1004-PL-464, Robert argued his claims shouldn’t have been dismissed because they were brought under the Wage Payment Statute so he wasn’t required to submit them to the Department of Labor. Based on St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr. Inc. v. Steele, 766 N.E.2d 699, 704 (Ind. 2002), he claimed which statute to proceed under depends on the employee’s status when the claim accrues as opposed to the employee’s status when he or she files the claim.

Robert argued it is irrelevant that he was involuntarily separated from Defender before he filed his complaint because he wasn’t alleging a violation of the Wage Claims Statute. The judges interpreted his argument to be that an employee who was involuntarily separated would have to file a complaint based on the Wage Payment Statute for alleged violations that occurred prior to the separation. An employee would then submit a separate claim with the DOL under the Wage Claims Statute for alleged violations that occurred during the final pay period.

The judges determined that the relevant inquiry is to the status of the employee at the time he or she filed the claim as to what statute he or she should proceed under, Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

“Robert was involuntarily separated from Defender when he filed his claims and, as such, his claims fell under the Wage Claims Statute. Instead of submitting his claims to the DOL, as required by Wage Claims Statute, Robert improperly filed a complaint based on the Wage Payment Statute,” he wrote. “Because Robert did not allege any Wage Claims Statute violations and submit his claims to the DOL, the trial court properly dismissed Robert’s claims.”
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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