The lawyer who says her boss illegally paid her for her work as an attorney has filed a lawsuit against the law firm, saying it violated her First Amendment rights.
Christine Schmader says her employer violated her constitutional rights when she was fired in February 2018 after she began working on behalf of the city of Beaumont, Texas, as an independent contractor.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas claims that her employer, Lava Group LLC, violated a federal law by illegally withholding the attorney’s compensation and making her work for free for three months.
The law, known as the Fair Labor Standards Act, prohibits employers from paying attorneys for their work.
It was enacted in 1968 to protect workers from unfair labor practices and ensure the right to a fair trial.
It requires employers to pay the attorneys for work done for their clients and prohibits employers that withhold compensation from retaliating against workers for complaining about the practice.
In the lawsuit, Schmaders attorneys argue that Lava violated the law when it paid her less than $50 an hour for work she did for the city and which she had not performed, according to an Austin American-Statesman report.
Schmader, now 52, says she was forced to work for less than half that amount because of the unfair labor practice and that she was denied overtime pay for the work she had done.
The lawsuit also alleges that Laval did not pay her overtime pay when she worked at the firm for two years.