Employment Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants related to the payment of overtime wages.  Defendant hired an Employment Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Weiser et al v. Pathway Services, Inc. – United States District Court – Northern District of Oklahoma – April 4th, 2019) involves an alleged failure to pay overtime wages.  The plaintiffs were employed by the defendants as road surveyors between July 2015 and March 2017.  The plaintiffs allege that the defendant’s failed to pay overtime wages as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The defendants have filed a counterclaim for fraud and breach of contract, arguing that it overpaid the defendants because they falsely reported the amount of hours they worked.  The defendant hired Employment Expert Witness Randall G. O’Neal to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Mr. O’Neal is a wage-and-hour consultant with forty years of experience working in the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.  O’Neal opines that the two-time reporting systems that were utilized by the defendant would fully comply with the requirements of the FLSA and that the plaintiffs did not accurately report their hours worked.

The plaintiffs do not challenge Mr. O’Neal’s experience or expertise.  Therefore, there is no dispute that Mr. O’Neal is qualified to render an expert opinion in his field.

The court opines that Mr. O’Neal’s first opinion satisfied the reliability requirements of Rule 702.  In addition, the court opines that his extensive experience at the Department of Labor and the reasoning in his report are sufficient for him to render his opinion.  The court notes that any arguments on this issue can be brought up by the plaintiffs during cross examination.

The court also opines that Mr. O’Neal’s second opinion is essentially a credibility determination, which usurps a critical function of the jury.  The court also opines that this part of O’Neal’s opinion is not helpful to the jury, which can make its own determination of credibility.  Last, the court opines that O’Neal’s opinion is prejudicial and would unduly influence the jury as made by a qualified expert.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Randall G. O’Neal is granted in part and denied in part.