United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Docket No: 16-5800
As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, On November 9, 2016, Bethany Katz, an organizer who worked directly for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party (“PDP”), filed a federal lawsuit, on behalf of herself and all other organizers who worked directly or indirectly for the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”), in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asserting that the DNC and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party violated federal and state law by requiring her and others to work in excess of 40 hours per workweek while denying her and others overtime compensation guaranteed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and various state laws.
On January 20, 2017, Ms. Katz, joined by 6 other organizers who directly worked for other state democratic parties, amended the Complaint, adding 6 other state democratic parties to the lawsuit, and alleging that the state parties worked with the DNC in coordinating work and denying overtime pay to organizers.
This lawsuit is not an attack on the Democratic Party, its ideals, or its candidates. The progressive movement, of which the Democratic Party strives to meaningfully advance, is indeed responsible for the very laws on which this lawsuit is premised. The Democratic Party is commended for its efforts in pursing higher and fairer wages for workers throughout the country. But the “Democratic Party” is not an abstraction; it is composed of hard working individuals who fight day and night for what they believe is right. The people on the ground level of the campaigns – the organizers – work tirelessly during the campaign season to ensure that Democratic voters will show up and vote on election day. Such tireless efforts are taken to advance the progressive movement, including to advance the rights of workers. In our last election, the fight for higher minimum wages was officially adopted as one of the canons of the Democratic Party.
This lawsuit seeks fair pay for fair work. It seeks to hold the Democratic Party to the very ideals that progressives have worked so hard to achieve for workers throughout this country. In so holding the Party to these ideals, we sincerely believe that we will improve the Party.
What the Lawsuit Seeks
The lawsuit seeks the District Court to hold that organizers who worked for the DNC and the state democratic parties are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 per workweek. The lawsuit seeks judgment for those who opt in to the case for unpaid overtime hours and liquidated damages. Provided Plaintiffs are successful, those who opt-in may be entitled to recover several thousand dollars of more, depending on the length of time employed by the campaign and the number of hours worked per workweek.
Litigation is not a guarantee
As with all litigation, there is no guarantee that Plaintiffs will prevail. Plaintiffs claims are yet unproven, and the relief they seek may ultimately not be granted. The Defendants assert that their employees are not entitled to the protections of the FLSA. Specifically, the Defendants have argued that the their employees have no legal right to be paid overtime or minimum wage for the hours they work. Many of the Defendants (other than the DNC and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party) have also argued that the District Court in Philadelphia does not have jurisdiction over them because they operate outside of Pennsylvania.
The Court has not yet ruled on class certification
The Plaintiffs seek to bring their claims on behalf of all organizers who worked directly for the DNC or who worked for any state democratic committee in the last three years. The Court has not yet determined whether the case may be maintained as a class or collective action. However, you may submit a consent form below, which will be submitted to the Court for review. By filing a consent form, you will be informing the Court that you wish to bring your claims for unpaid overtime in this action. Provided that you submit a consent form, the Court grants certification and Plaintiffs are successful, you may be entitled to recover compensation. If you do not submit a consent form, you will not be entitled to receive compensation in this case for federal wage and hour violations. If you wish to recover unpaid overtime but do not wish to file a consent form, you may file a new lawsuit and hire your own attorney to bring such claims separately. However, if you wish to assert your rights and obtain compensation from the case, you must file a consent form.
Swartz Swidler, LLC has taken this case on a contingency fee. They may be entitled to receive attorneys’ fees and costs from Defendants should there be a recovery or judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs. If there is a recovery, Swartz Swidler, LLC will receive a part of any settlement obtained or money judgment entered in favor of all members of the class or their fees will be paid separately by the DNC and/or the state democratic parties. If there is no recovery or judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor, Swartz Swidler, LLC will not seek any attorney’s fees or costs from any of the Plaintiffs.