City of Apopka employees forced to work during lunch without overtime, lawsuit says

APOPKA, Fla. — A federal lawsuit filed against the city of Apopka said the city forced employees to work through lunch breaks and refused to pay the employees overtime.

Five former employees said in the lawsuit they worked through their lunch break without overtime for at least three years while they worked in various departments for the city.

One longtime employee, who worked as an environmental specialist for 10 years, said the city "automatically deducted 30 minutes per day for a lunch break even though she routinely did not take a break,” the lawsuit said.

Four other employees joined the lawsuit, alleging they were subject to the same treatment by supervisors and other managers who "knew the employees were working during the automatically deducted lunch break,” the lawsuit said.

A settlement has been reached with the city and the former employees.

If a federal judge signs off on the settlement agreement as expected, the city will have to pay each employee double to include unpaid overtime and what the court calls liquidated damages ranging between $2,000 to more than $14,000 each for a total of about $36,000, according to investigative reporter Daralene Jones.

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The city has borrowed money for this fiscal year to help balance the budget and plans to dip into reserves for necessary capital expenses, like fire and police expenses. The issue of creating a policy to maintain a higher reserve was raised during a council meeting just two months ago.

9 Investigates asked the city of Apopka whether it changed any policies or procedures or whether any supervisors were disciplined as a result of the complaint, but we have not heard back.

It’s also unclear which part of the budget will be used to pay these former employees.