MUST READ: Bernie Moreno Destroyed Key Evidence To Get Out Of Paying His Employees Wages They’d Earned
January 19, 2024
Business Insider: Ohio Senate Candidate Shredded Documents As He Faced A Lawsuit Accusing Him Of Wage Theft
Columbus, OH – New reporting today from Business Insider reveals Bernie Moreno “destroyed” key evidence a judge had ordered him to keep to avoid paying his employees the overtime they deserved. After forcing his employees to sue him to get the pay they were entitled to, Moreno was found liable by a jury for wage theft and was forced by the Court to pay over $400,000 in damages – only then did he settle over a dozen lawsuits before launching his Senate bid.
“Not only did Bernie Moreno spend years cheating his employees out of the overtime pay they had earned, he went so far as to shred key evidence he was required to keep to escape paying his employees for their work. Just as a judge and jury held him accountable for destroying key evidence and withholding his employees’ wages, Ohioans will see that Moreno is a slimy, dishonest conman who is only out for himself,” said ODP spokesperson Katie Smith.
Read more from Business Insider below:
Business Insider: Trump-backed Ohio Senate candidate shredded documents as he faced a lawsuit accusing him of wage theft
January 19, 2024
- Former car dealership owner turned GOP candidate Bernie Moreno […] settled over a dozen wage theft lawsuits in the months before launching his campaign last year, according to court documents reviewed by Business Insider.
- Those settlements came after a jury ordered Moreno to pay over $400,000 to two former employees at his Massachusetts dealership for failing to pay overtime in accordance with state labor laws.
- As he faced those lawsuits, Moreno admitted in a deposition to shredding documents containing information that was potentially relevant to the case, despite being instructed to preserve records — drawing a rebuke from a state judge.
- Moreno’s legal troubles began in 2017, when Omar Adem — a former salesperson at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Burlington, Massachusetts — filed a lawsuit alleging that Moreno had failed to pay him for overtime hours worked while he was employed at the dealership between February 2015 and July 2017.
- Yet by 2015, state law mandated that employers like Moreno pay salespeople for any time worked beyond the standard 40 hours per week, regardless of commissions.
- Moreno continued to litigate the case, even as that ruling appeared to open the floodgates for further lawsuits. 16 other former salespeople who had worked at the Massachusetts dealership from 2014 to 2018, all of whom were represented by the same lawyers as Adem, sued Moreno for wage theft beginning in March 2022.
- From the beginning, Moreno was required to preserve all documents relevant to the case, and he specifically agreed to do so in January 2020 as the Adem case progressed.
- But during a May 2021 deposition for one of those wage theft cases, Moreno conceded that in late 2020, he had destroyed paper copies of monthly reports containing information about overtime hours worked by some employees…
- [T]he judge in that case, Justice Michael Ricciuti, chose to sanction him for destroying potential evidence, arguing that the only proof that overtime records for salespeople never existed was Moreno’s own testimony.
- “This case turns on the parties’ credibility,” wrote Ricciuti. “Plaintiffs should not be forced to take Moreno’s word about the substance of these reports.”
- In sanctioning Moreno, Ricciuti ruled that the jury could use the fact of destroyed evidence when determining whether Adem and other employees were owed overtime pay.
- “Where negligently or intentionally, the Defendants lost or destroyed evidence that they were required to preserve and which they knew or should have known was relevant,” Justice Michael Ricciuti wrote in August 2022.
- Ultimately, a jury found in August 2022 that Adem and another salesperson who joined the lawsuit had proven “by a preponderance of the evidence” that they had worked overtime hours, and that his employers knew that.
- The judge later ordered Moreno to pay out a total of $416,160, including compensation for the overtime hours worked, damages, and legal fees, in November. In January 2023, Moreno settled 14 of the 16 related lawsuits, court records show. Just 3 months later in April 2023, Moreno launched his comeback bid for US Senate.