Homespire Mortgage, Ex-Employees Reach Settlement On Unpaid OT
If approved by court, Homespire would pay the plaintiffs the full amount of their unpaid overtime wages.
A Florida-based mortgage lender has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by 12 former loan officers who accused the company of preventing them from reporting overtime hours and requiring them to work off the clock without pay.
According to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the settlement, which still must be approved by the court, would require Homespire Mortgage Co. to pay the plaintiffs the full amount of their unpaid overtime wages. A joint motion was submitted to U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn last week to approve the settlement, which both sides agree to.
A detailed description of the settlement, including the total dollar amount to be paid, was not released. However, a supplemental statement of claim filed with the court on Feb. 17 provides an estimate of the amounts owed to each of the 12 plaintiffs.
Lead plaintiffs Iona Lewis and Jaclyn Heery had moved in January to certify their lawsuit as a class action, seeking to represent any hourly, non-overtime-exempt loan officers who worked at Homespire at any time in the past three years. Lewis filed her complaint in November, and additional loan officers, including Heery, joined the suit as named plaintiffs after it was filed.
Citing violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the lawsuit sought to recover unpaid overtime, minimum wages, and commissions, as well as attorneys fees and court costs. According to the supplemental statement, the plaintiffs are individually owed between $9,547.50 and $42,960, including both total wages owed and liquidated damages. Lewis is owed $11,010, including $5,505 in total wages and an equal amount in damages, while Heery is owed $20,910, including $10,455 in total wages and damages, according to the document.
Under the deal, the plaintiffs would retain all of the settlement proceeds, while their attorneys will negotiate a separate amount for legal fees and costs.
Lewis had worked as a loan officer at Homespire's Fort Lauderdale branch from April to August 2022 and claimed the company did not accurately record or compensate her for her hours worked. In the complaint, she said Homespire instructed her and others to record only 40 hours per week, in order to circumvent its legal obligations to pay time-and-a-half wages for overtime.
The lawsuit claims Homespire required Lewis to attend open house listings on weekends but did not pay her for that.
It also claimed that Homespire granted conditional income to loan officers for the first three months of their employment, and required them to refund the entire amount to the company within three business days if they left their job within the first year. Loan officers also lost out on mandatory minimum wages during those first months as a result, the suit claims.
The lawsuit claims Homespire also failed to pay Lewis a transition bonus of approximately $10,000, even though a manager acknowledged the company owed the debt in writing as recently as Aug. 24, 2022.
The motion to approve the settlement notes that Homespire “strenuously contested Plaintiffs’ entire case,” and filed a motion “to dismiss the nationwide class allegations altogether,”
The settlement was reached after months of negotiations, and according to the motion to approve the settlement, “In exchange for the settlement proceeds and these additional negotiated terms, plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the claims brought in the amended complaint with prejudice. The parties stipulate that they have a bona fide dispute and are resolving the matter to avoid the cost and time of litigating the issues and the risks associated with continued litigation.”
The settlement agreement awaits Judge Cohn's approval.