National Grid workers sue for Sandy overtime

NEW YORK Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:41pm EST

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NEW YORK Nov 16 (Reuters) - Power company National Grid was hit by a lawsuit this week by employees claiming the company owes overtime pay for work they performed in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The suit was filed in Brooklyn federal court by a union representing National Grid workers in Brooklyn and Queens, who say they have been working 12- to 16-hour shifts for six or seven days a week to restore natural gas services to customers affected by the storm.

The workers say that despite working 60 to 80-hour weeks, they have been paid for standard 40-hour weeks at regular pay rates.

A United States unit of UK-based National Grid PLC supplies natural gas to residents of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.

The suit, filed on Thursday and seeks class action status, seeks an unspecified amount in damages and back pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Under that act, if it is found that National Grid failed to pay the proper wage the plaintiffs could recover double damages.

In a statement, National Grid spokeswoman Karen Young said the company had recently experienced a problem with its automated payroll system that affected a subset of National Grid employees. The company is working to resolve the issue and is working quickly to address the payroll problems and all employees affected would be "made whole as soon as possible."

The plaintiffs' attorney, Arthur Schwartz, said they would still pursue their suit against the company.

Sandy hit New York on October 29, bringing hurricane-force winds that wreaked havoc in the tri-state area and left thousands of residents without power and natural gas, in some cases for days or weeks.

National Grid said it is continuing around-the-clock efforts to repair portions of its natural gas system that were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

The case is Conigliaro et al. v. National Grid, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 12-5627.

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California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

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