Hamilton College, my alma mater, recently was the focus here over its decision to force The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization off campus because it did not comport with the college’s multi-cultural agenda, Western Civilization driven off campus at Hamilton College.
Now Hamilton has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging that it failed to comply with minimum wage laws for its Athletic Department “interns.” A copy of the Class Action Complaint is embedded below.
The essence of the complaint is that Hamilton evaded the wage laws by misclassifying employees as “interns” and not meeting minimum wage and overtime requirements.
According to the Complaint (paragraphs 12-15), filed on December 20, 2012, plaintiff Benjamin J. Kozik was an employee of Hamilton from August 1, 2010 until his resignation on October 19, 2012. Plaintiff worked as an “Intern in Intercollegiate/Assistant Football Coach” in Hamilton’s Athletics Department as an Assistant Football Coach, as well as for one athletic season of four months as an Intern and Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach. Plaintiff was not a student and alleges he was not covered by any of the statutory exemptions from minumum wages laws. Nonetheless, plaintiff alleges that the flat sum of money he was paid as an “intern” did not meet the minimum wage in light of the hours worked.
Among the key allegations are:
1. This is a case about a college with a $650-750 million endowment that fails to pay Interns in its Athletics Department and/or Intercollegiate Athletics (“Athletics Department”), including Plaintiff and other similarly situated individuals, the wages to which they are entitled to by law.
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3. Plaintiff and the members of the proposed classes were employed by Defendant in its Athletics Department and regularly worked for a flat monthly or annual sum, regardless of the number of hours worked, which resulted in an hourly rate below the minimum wage set by law. In addition, Plaintiff and the members of the proposed classes often worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week, but were not paid time-and one-half overtime compensation. They also worked more
than ten (10) hours per day and/or a split shift, but were not paid spread-of-hours pay. Plaintiff and the members of the proposed classes were not students at Hamilton, met the definition of employee under federal and state law, and were not subject to any applicable exemptions or exclusions under applicable law, including, but not limited to, those for students, apprentices, learners, teachers, executives, administrators, or professionals.
4. By the conduct described in this Collective and Class Action Complaint (“Complaint”), Defendant willfully violated federal and state wage and hour laws. Plaintiff seeks to recover unpaid minimum and overtime wages, spread-of-hours pay, attorneys’ fees and costs, interest, and liquidated damages.
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45. Hamilton currently has twenty-nine (29) varsity sports, the bulk of which have at least one Intern. In addition, there is a Sports Information Intern.
46. Upon information and belief, Interns in the Athletics Department are subject to a common practice or policy in which they are classified as part-time, work hours equal to or in excess of forty (40) hours per week, and as a matter of common practice or policy receive flat pay at monthly or other intervals well below a rate compensating them for all hours worked at the lawful minimum wage.
47. Upon information and belief, Interns in the Athletics Department work hours in excess of forty (40) per week, but as a matter of common practice or policy have never received overtime compensation.
The lawsuit further alleges that Hamilton is able to get away with violating the wage laws because it know that the interns hope to obtain permanent coaching jobs and are afraid to complain:
49. Hamilton also employs full-time assistant coaches in the Athletics Department who often work for higher pay and shorter hours than Interns. Interns often perform many of the same tasks as full-time assistant coaches, yet as a matter of common practice or policy receive much lower pay and are classified as part-time. Interns work these long hours with the hope of receiving a full-time position. Upon information and belief, Hamilton is aware of the efforts and ambitions of Interns to secure full-time coaching positions at Hamilton or another educational institution and knowingly and, as a matter of common practice or policy, willfully misclassified Interns as exempt from the FLSA and NYLL, classified them as part-time and permitted them to work long hours with the expectation that the Interns would not challenge such policies to avoid jeopardizing their future as athletic coaches.
The class is alleged to consist of:
All similarly situated individuals who are or have been employed by Defendant as Interns in its Athletics Department at any point during the six years prior to the filing of the Complaint through the final disposition of this action.
The lawsuit seeks back wages, attorneys fees, and statutory damages, among other things.
I have reached out to Hamilton for comment, and will print any response as an update.