A lawsuit filed by a local television reporter claims she is owed unpaid overtime compensation and that her contract with her company violates federal labor laws.
Candace Price filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky against Marquee Broadcasting Inc., which owns and operates WNKY-TV in Bowling Green as well as eight other U.S. TV stations.
The complaint alleges that Price, who joined WNKY in January 2019, worked more than 40 hours in a week on more than one occasion without overtime payments and that her employment agreement with Marquee did not disclose that her salary was intended to cover workweeks of longer than 40 hours.
The lawsuit also claims that if an employee with Marquee leaves before the expiration of his or her contract, the employee must pay an amount of money equal to the salary the employee would have been paid had he or she continued working there.
“What appears to be the situation is that this particular organization has not paid overtime to the reporters that it employs, at least from what I can tell,” said attorney Bernie Mazaheri, who represents Price.
Price declined to comment when reached online. She is not listed on WNKY’s website as a member of the station’s news team.
“From my review of what the company practices are, I do believe there’s a violation,” Mazaheri said. “Ms. Price wanted to bring a claim on her own behalf and others similarly situated.”
WNKY station manager Julie Milam did not return a call seeking comment.
The lawsuit alleges a violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes standards in the private sector regarding minimum wage, overtime pay and record keeping.
The legal action is amid a changing environment in which more workers have recently become eligible for overtime.
Beginning Jan. 1, salaried employees earning up to $684 a week qualify for overtime, a raise from the previous maximum weekly standard of $455 in gross earnings.
Certain employees in executive, administrative and outside sales positions can be considered exempt under the overtime regulations, but Mazaheri said in the lawsuit that TV news reporters and producers do not fall under that exemption thanks to a 1990 ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit involving a Dallas-area TV news station.