Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Former TapouT Employee Awarded $3.2 Million in Wage Case

A former TapouT sales representative, Michelle Thomas, was awarded $2.4 million in punitive damages by a Los Angeles jury after previously being awarded $840,000 in compensatory damages, bringing her total award to more than $3.2 million in her wage & hour (and maybe wrongful termination?) claim against the MMA apparel company. From the Beverly Hills Courier story on the verdict:

The punitive damages phase was triggered when the panel concluded that TapouT acted with malice toward Thomas, who filed her suit in October 2008.

She maintained that she was not paid the commissions she was promised and was denied overtime for working as many as 70-plus hours some weeks during her eight months on the job.

Thomas also testified that employees were told to pay out of their own pocket for any television subscriptions needed to view the company's show on the Versus cable network, called "TapouT," as well as pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.

Thomas said she was roundly criticized by a supervisor for not watching one required program on her birthday. She was fired in June 2008.

Defense attorney Gail F. Montgomery told jurors that TapouT sales representatives were entitled to time off instead of overtime because of their employee classifications.

She said Arika Helton, TapouT's national sales manager, testified Thomas never complained to her about not being paid overtime.

I am not entirely sure why the article labels this a "wrongful termination." Nevertheless, major verdict and victory for the plaintiff!

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