In 2014, Mehri & Skalet has a series of cases on behalf of federal employees against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Partner Heidi Burakiewicz has recovered over $50 million dollars in cases involving violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Federal Back Pay Act, the Privacy Act, contractual violations, and overturning disciplinary decisions.
For example, in FCI Bennettsville, South Carolina, M&S recovered over $9.25 million on behalf of approximately 150 employees as a result of the Agency’s failure to compensate them for performing work before and after their shifts.
In USP II Coleman, M&S obtained a landmark decision from the Federal Labor Relations Authority (“FLRA”) upholding an arbitrator’s decision that (1) employees should be paid for the time they are inside the secure confines of the institution (even if they have not performed any other compensable work) because they are required to be alert and vigilant and (2) the ten minute de minimis rule does not bar the recovery of overtime compensation for employees who have to relieve another officer during the shift exchange process. This pathbreaking decision has the capacity to change the pay requirements at every BOP institution.
In cases at FCC Forrest City and FCC Butner, M&S obtained decisions that the Agency violated the Privacy Act when it carelessly left documents with sensitive employee information unsecured in areas where inmates had access. As a result, employees are entitled to the greater of $1000 or the value of the harm they suffered as a result of the Privacy Act violation. Importantly, in addition to the out-of-pocket expenses employees incurred taking precautionary measures, employees are entitled to compensation for the value of the time they spent taking precautions to protect themselves from the Privacy Act breach such as contacting their creditors, signing up for a credit protection service, or checking their credit reports.