Tenth Circuit: Awards Under Both FLSA and CWCA Permissible

William Evans drove a truck for a Colorado business. Evans v. Loveland Automotive Investments, Inc. (10th Cir. 2015). After the defendants failed to timely pay him his wages, Evans sued under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Colorado Wage Claim Act (CWCA).

Engaging again in the behavior that got them sued in the first place, the defendants failed to respond to Evans’s complaint on time. The court entered default judgment in favor of Evans under both the FLSA and CWCA. The court concluded that since the claims were at least partially overlapping, Evans could only recover damages on the statute that provided the most relief, granting him $7,248 in compensatory damages under the CWCA, plus penalties amounting to an additional $12,685 plus interest, as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

On appeal, Evans argued that he was entitled to liquidated damages under the FLSA in addition to his CWCA recovery, because the two awards served different purposes under the law. Observing that no Tenth Circuit case had addressed the issue, the court agreed with Evans that the two statutes served different purposes and he could recover under both without realizing an impermissible “double recovery.” The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals thus remanded the case back to federal district court for recalculation of damages.

This case raises the stakes for employers and highlights the importance of settling wage claims early in the process. As a result of this holding, wage claims that make it to trial may be more costly for employers than previously. MSEC’s attorneys are always happy to assist with wage claims.