Civil Clinic Students Win in U.S. District Court
Posted on May 5, 2014
University of Arkansas School of Law Civil Clinic students Trevor Townsend and Bethany Whitfield won a victory for restaurant servers last week. Chief U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes found that tips left by restaurant customers were the property of the Civil Clinic’s client, a server. In his decision, Judge Holmes wrote that the Civil Clinic’s client was, “entitled to retention of his tips and that Defendants wrongfully withheld them.” Judge Holmes also found that the client was individually covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act – the federal statute that requires employers to pay the minimum wage and overtime.
School of Law graduate John Holleman commented, “As lead counsel in multiple nationwide wage and hour cases involving thousands of plaintiffs, I could not be more impressed with the commitment to justice shown by the Civil Clinic students in helping this client. It is virtually impossible to find a private attorney to take this type of case. But the Civil Clinic did and knocked the case out of the park. Of special note is the fact the students won their conversion claim—in essence proving that the employer was stealing their client’s tips. This is an incredibly helpful ruling for any employee suffering from wage theft and was the result of some very smart advocacy by the Civil Clinic.”
The decision will be published in the Federal Supplement and lists students Whitfield and Townsend as counsel of record, along with School of Law Professor Annie Smith. Whitfield observed that, for every client the clinic represents, there are many more who go unrepresented. She said, “I want to always remember the feeling of joy I had reading the decision because I never want to stop doing this type of advocacy.”