The Court of Appeals this week largely upheld a $4.1M jury verdict against the officers of Precision Drywall for “willful violations” of Washington’s wage and hour laws. In 2008, a class of more than 300 current and former employees of Precision Drywall filed a class action suit against Precision and its officers asserting claims of unlawful tool deductions, failure to pay overtime wages and failure to provide rest breaks. The employees’ largest claim centered around Precision’s practice of paying workers on the basis of square footage of drywall installed.
As a result, the employees’ actual hours worked, including overtime hours were not tracked. While the employees’ actual damages were determined to be slightly more than $1M, as a result of the jury’s finding that the wage and hour violations were willful, the employees were also entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of double the wages wrongfully withheld. The employees were also awarded interest and attorneys’ fees. The individual officers were held liable because Washington’s wage and hour statutes contain a definition of “employer,” which extends to “individuals acting directly or indirectly in the interest of the employer in relation to an employee.” The primary owners of Precision represented themselves in the appeal.