In this landmark Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) case, Beaumont Costales won an appeal that ensures undocumented immigrants have a right to overtime pay. The case began as a garden-variety overtime case. Beaumont Costales brought suit to recover overtime wages for their client, Javier Portillo, who was only paid “straight time” for all the overtime he worked with the construction company defendants. In answering the lawsuit, the defendants claimed that Mr. Portillo was using an alias while he worked for them, so he could not recover under the FLSA. The lower court agreed.
Beaumont Costales appealed, arguing that the defendant construction company was in fact encouraging the use of aliases by its employees so that it could use that as leverage against undocumented workers in the event the workers sought to enforce their rights. Beaumont Costales further argued to the appeals court that by allowing undocumented workers to receive less than overtime pay, the court would be hurting American workers. By creating a second class of worker who was not entitled to equal pay, companies would have a perverse incentive to use those undocumented workers instead of American workers. Ultimately, the appeals court agreed with Beaumont Costales, and sent the case back to the lower court, where it immediately settled. To read the full appeal, see Portillo v. Permanent Workers, LLC, 662 Fed. Appx. 277 (5th Cir. 2016).
In this case, the attorneys of Beaumont Costales fought on behalf of nearly 200 undocumented Central American workers who were illegally denied overtime pay by a large construction company. These workers labored for more than a year and a half on an $80 million-dollar renovation of a 20-story downtown New Orleans building that was being redeveloped into a luxury hotel and condos, complete with posh appointments, suites named after Hollywood celebrities and high rents to match. Meanwhile, as Beaumont Costales uncovered, the construction company was systematically editing the workers timesheets, ultimately denying them more than half a million dollars in overtime pay.
Beaumont Costales filed more than 150 liens against the building, preventing its sale or rental until the workers were paid their due. The case settled one week before trial, and Beaumont Costales got every worker 100% of their unpaid overtime. Additionally, the company who failed to pay the workers overtime was put out of business by the lawsuit.
In this high-stakes case in which a family’s financial security hung in the balance, the attorneys of Beaumont Costales successfully brought suit against a large industrial transportation company operating in the Port of New Orleans that had committed egregious and repeated violations of safety standards. The case began when a young father, working as a forklift operator, suffered a catastrophic injury which resulted in the removal of the back third of his spine and thus rendered him bedridden. Through thorough investigations, Beaumont Costales uncovered a pattern in the company’s safety program in which the company actively encouraged workers to ignore its own safety protocol in favor of efficiency, but in turn placed blame on the workers when accidents happened.
The attorneys of Beaumont Costales proved that the company had blatantly pressured employees to ignore its own safety practices, and the court awarded the injured plaintiff and his young family a seven-figure settlement.