A prominent local investment management company has been sued in U.S. District Court in Nashville by a former employee for multiple alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including retaliatory discharge and failing to pay overtime wages.
The lawsuit, filed April 20 by Angela Innes, accuses The Martin Companies LLC and several company managers of conspiring to terminate her after she complained to superiors about being asked to misreport wage and salary information.
Innes alleges she was further directed by some of the defendants to issue 1099s to certain independent contractors although Innes believed the entities in question and the employees working for those entities were in fact W-2 category employees. Innes complained to management of Martin Companies — the main vehicle for the investments of Vanguard Health Systems CEO Charlie Martin — about this improper classification but to no avail.
Other instances enumerated in Innes' complaint include direction from superiors to reclassify workers from “other companies” as salaried non-exempt persons so overtime wages would not be required despite hours already worked by some. The employees affected by this directive worked with one of several companies partly owned by Martin Companies, including Moontoast LLC, Care Team Connect Inc., DisastersNet Inc. (since renamed ReadyPoint), Bibliog LLC and Charlie’s Gospel Bar & Grill LLC d/b/a Country Boy Restaurant.
Martin officials were not available immediately Monday.
Innes further alleges company officials would compensate some employees with gift cards rather than “real money” and Innes was instructed to classify those gift cards as expenses incurred by the company and not compensation paid to employees.
On Sept. 8, 2011, Innes was terminated. No reason was given at the time but later she was told it was poor attitude. Innes, who has since found a new job at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, claims her termination was retaliatory because of her vocal stand against the company’s accounting practices.
This lawsuit was filed by Innes’ attorney, J. Brad Scarbrough of his eponymous law firm based in Brentwood. Scarbrough was not immediately available for comment late Monday.
Innes is seeking back wages and benefits plus an equal amount of liquidated damages. Punitive damages are also requested but not specified. Attorneys’ fees, and damages for mental and emotional suffering, humiliation and embarrassment are requested.