Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Jan 11, 2013 in Workers' Compensation
A former employee of the Lani Kai Island Resort on Fort Myers Beach has filed a lawsuit alleging the hotel failed to pay him overtime for nearly two years and he claims other employees were similarly underpaid.
Ramon Aponte, a former maintenance director, said that was simply the hotel's policy.
From day one, they flatly said they don't pay overtime, said Aponte, who filed the suit on Dec. 21.
Despite being an hourly employee and often working 50 or more hours a week, he said the resort never paid him time and a half during his stint there from February 2011 to November of last year.
Bob Burandt, the hotel's attorney, concedes the hotel failed to pay Aponte overtime but chalks it up to a computer error. When the hotel was notified of Aponte's intent to sue, he said staff discovered the mistake and wrote Aponte a check for the amount he was owed before realizing the lawsuit had already been filed.
But Aponte says he was not the only one affected.
He said his staff of eight workers regularly were not paid proper overtime wages after working more than 40 hours in a week and he heard employees from other departments complaining about the same circumstances.
"If you look at it the way I'm looking at it, it's just not right," Aponte said. "It's always about the money; it's not about the little people."
He said he simply wants the money he earned.
Burandt said the hotel initially calculated that it owed Aponte about $2,600, but then realized that amount might not be correct and is working on confirming the actual amount.
Nobodys trying to cheat anyone, he said. There was a breakdown in communication between the computers at the Lani Kai and the computers at the payroll service.
He said it was an honest mistake and the Lani Kai is happy to look into any other potential mix-ups, though it knows of no others.
Nobody in the history of the Lani Kai, that I'm aware of has ever complained of not being paid overtime, he said.
Though the company tries to avoid paying overtime, he said it does so by hiring more workers, not by stiffing people on their paychecks. And he said the staff never told Aponte they do not pay overtime when they are required to.
That's not true, he said.
Bernard Mazaheri, a lawyer with the Morgan & Morgan law firm based in Plantation who is representing Aponte, said he believes others were affected but cannot say how many until the payroll records are reviewed. The hotel employs an estimated 75 to 100 people, he said.
As of today, Mazaheri wrote in an email, the Resort has refused to provide information about anyone other than Aponte.
Last month, another of Mazaheris's clients, Ronald Duke, agreed to an undisclosed settlement for past overtime pay over several years, as well as damages and attorneys fees and costs in a lawsuit filed against the Cape Coral Moose Lodge.
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