New judges check in to Welcome Inn case
Two new judges will oversee the ongoing legal battle between the proprietors of the Welcome Inn and its employees.
The case involving the Quincy, IL hotel has been reassigned to Judge Colin Stirling Bruce and Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long, according to the most recent document filing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins is no longer on the case.
History of the case
Plaintiffs April R. Brashier, Richard M. Orencia, and Chad Lebow filed a lawsuit against Quincy Property LLC, doing business as “Welcome Inn,” and Brett Burge, Kenneth Logan, Quentin Kearney and Joe Wimberly under FLSA and Illinois Wage Laws. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 28, 2017, alleges the plaintiffs worked at the defendants’ hotels and weren’t paid overtime due under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The plaintiffs further allege they were misclassified as salaried employees exempt from FLSA, and that the defendants illegally deducted amounts from their pay in violation of FLSA.
Under FLSA, employees may bring a collective action against an employer to recover unpaid overtime or minimum wages. Unlike class action suits under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure — whereby potential plaintiffs are included unless they opt out — potential plaintiffs in FLSA collective actions must affirmatively opt in to the suit, according to Cornell Law School.
Brashier claims in court documents she was unjustly terminated at Welcome Inn for complaining about a lack of overtime pay, and threatened with illegal wage deductions.
Lebow alleges the defendants also retaliated against him. He claims they reduced his wages and/or tried to intimidate him by “strictly scrutinizing his work because he requested overtime pay.”
Allegations and court documents have flown back and forth since the case’s filing. After nearly two years, a telephone conference has been scheduled with the court for Nov. 30. Despite the change in presiding judge, the conference will go on as scheduled with Judge Long.
New judges’ backgrounds
Bruce is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Long served as the First Assistant United States Attorney and Criminal Chief for the Office of the United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois prior to his appointment as magistrate. He served in that capacity since August 2013, after previously serving as an Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Chief and Branch Chief since August 2002, according to his biography.
Documents gave no information as to why the case was reassigned to Long and Bruce.