Terminated Employee Not Entitled to Additional Unpaid Wages

worker_inspects_construction-scaledGetting terminated from a job is always a stressful situation. You are likely concerned about how you are going to make ends meet. This is even more true if you believe your former employer has not paid you all the wages you are entitled to. 

Rick Calamia worked for Core Lab for under a year. He was terminated from his job. He claimed he was owed various unpaid wages, which Core Lab denied. Calamia filed a lawsuit against Core Lab under La. R.S. 23:631 for his purportedly unpaid wages and associated penalties, fees, and costs. Calamia claimed he was owed $1,808.16 for 73.8 hours of work, consisting of 7 hours of time entry pay, 16 hours of holiday pay, 49 hours of PTO, and 3.34 hours of Extended Illness Break hours, as well as 90 days of penalty wages. 

Core Lab argued Calamia had been paid everything to which he was entitled. One of the witnesses at trial was Cerly Watson, Core Lab’s payroll manager. She testified about the payroll procedure at Core Lab, including the two-week lag between when an employee submits a timecard and when it is reconciled on a pay statement. She testified about Calamia’s pay statements that were at issue in the lawsuit and explained how the discrepancies were later reconciled. At trial, the court ruled in favor of Core Lab and found Calamia was not entitled to additional wages. Calamia appealed.

Calamia had the burden of proof for his claim for unpaid wages and the associate penalties under La. R.S. 23:631 and La. R.S. 23:632. On appeal, Calamia claimed the trial court erred because his pay statement for pay period two improperly included a deduction of seven hours. The appellate court agreed with the trial court’s finding that Calamia did not provide sufficient proof to support this claim, given Watson’s testimony about Core Lab’s payroll procedure and the lag between submitted timecards and pay statements.

 Watson testified that the seven-hour deduction was because Calamia only had 41 hours of PTO and Extended Illness Break hours, but he had put 48 hours of it on his timesheet for Period 1. Therefore, the seven-hour deduction was to reconcile this issue. Although Calamia claimed he had over 48 hours available, the appellate court did not find the testimony or documentary evidence at trial supported this claim.

Calamia also claimed the trial court erred in finding he was not owed any holiday pay when he was terminated. Core Lab claimed that Calamia had received the 16 hours of holiday pay to which he was entitled. Watson testified this was because he had not worked on the holidays, so the 80 hours of work on his final paycheck included the 16 hours of holiday pay. The appellate court found no error in the trial court’s agreement with Watson’s testimony and agreed Calamia had been paid for the 16 hours of holiday pay. 

Calamia argued the trial court erred in holding he was not entitled to any wages for PTO or Extended Illness Break at the time of his termination. Here, the appellate court again agreed with the trial court’s finding Calamia had received all PTO and Extended Illness Break hours to which he was entitled because he was not entitled to accrue those hours while on a leave of absence. Therefore, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s decision to dismiss Calamia’s claims against Core Lab.

If you have been terminated from your job and think you have not received all the wages you are entitled to – including benefits such as PTO – a good lawyer can help advise you on possible legal action to receive those wages. 

Additional Sources: Rick Calamia, JR. V. Core Laboratories LP

Article Written By Berniard Law Firm

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article on Unpaid Wages: Seeking Unpaid Wages in Louisiana: Clarifying Petition Requirements for Employees

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