June, 2014 | The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan

Texas Woman Sues Shell Oil, Claiming She Was Fired While on Maternity Leave

Nicole Ryder of Harris County, Texas, has filed a federal lawsuit against Shell Oil Co., claiming that her employment was wrongfully terminated.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division), claiming violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In addition to Shell Oil Co., Shell Exploration & Production Co. was also named as a defendant.

According to the complaint, Ryder began working for Shell in June 2008. In August 2011, she signed a contract agreeing to remain employed with the company through July 31, 2013 in exchange for a retention payment of $60,300. Ryder learned she was pregnant in the spring of 2013.

Ryder claims she informed Shell of her pregnancy and stated that morning sickness had caused her to miss four days of work in May 2013. Ryder claims she was asked to submit leave paperwork under the FMLA and did so on June 27, 2013, but she inadvertently omitted the time period for which leave was requested. According to the lawsuit, her employment was terminated on July 8, 2013, and Shell declined to pay the retention bonus, asserting that Ryder did not remain employed until July 31.

Ryder is seeking the amount due under the retention agreement, back pay and front pay.

Employees Sue Restaurant Franchisee Over Unpaid Overtime

Five former restaurant workers filed a federal lawsuit against Marble Slab Creamery and Great American Cookies, San Antonio franchisees for Subway, alleging that they were not paid for overtime work and other work.

Collective action certification has been sought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the lawsuit on behalf of about 125 workers currently or formerly employed by a number of defendants. It is possible that the collective action could be expanded.

Wessam “Sammie” Aldeeb, the defendant franchisee, asserts that he has not underpaid employees and that his success depends on keeping his employees happy. Aldeeb operates at least eight franchise locations in San Antonio and Boerne, according to the lawsuit. The franchisers were not named in the suit.

An attorney for the plaintiffs has asserted that wage and hour violations are common in the restaurant industry. One of the plaintiffs has claimed that she worked many overtime hours for which she was not paid. Another attorney for the plaintiffs has argued that it is unfair and illegal competition for some businesses to keep labor costs down by violating the FLSA, earning profits at the expense of law-abiding competitors and of their own employees.

The lawsuit seeks certification as a collective action under the FLSA. Such collective actions share some characteristics with class action lawsuits, with notable differences. If employees are “similarly situated” to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit by being subject to a common policy or design, then they may “opt in” to the lawsuit. Employees who do not opt in may maintain the right to file a subsequent private action.

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