Sam J. Smith practices complex class, collective action, and multiparty litigation in the fields of wage and hour law, employment discrimination, public accommodations, and civil rights. Sam is a Florida native, born in Miami in 1959.
Sam has litigated class and collective actions for more than 30 years, and acted as lead or co-lead counsel in over 50 certified and putative class and collective actions under the FLSA, EPA, the WARN Act, and Title VII.
Sam has received a Foot Soldier Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an Outstanding Service in Public Accommodations Law award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for work in public accommodations He was recognized by the Trial Lawyer’s for Public Justice for work on a race discrimination class action. Sam has received several additional prestigious recognitions during his legal career, such as being named a Florida Super Lawyer every year since 2009; a member of the Florida Legal Elite (2010); a member of the Best Lawyers in America for the specialty of Labor and Employment Law since 2009; the Best Lawyers 2012 Tampa Employment Law – Individuals “Lawyer of the Year”; and the Best Lawyers 2018-2021 St. Petersburg, Litigation – Labor and Employment Law “Lawyer of the Year.”
Sam has been a member of various professional labor and employment associations and has authored or edited various publications on labor and employment law, including acting as a senior editor and contributing author of the treatise, The Fair Labor Standards Act, for over ten years. In 2010, along with a management attorney, Sam was responsible for drafting and editing Chapter 19, Collective Actions, and Chapter 20, “Hybrid FLSA/State Law Actions,” of The Fair Labor Standards Act. These chapters provided a comprehensive review and analysis of collective actions under the FLSA and class actions under state wage & hour laws.
Sam has also have served as the Employee Co-Chair of the FLSA Subcommittee of the American Bar Association from 2004 to 2007 and the Employee Co-Chair of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee from 2007 to 2010.
Sam is a member of the Wage and Hour Committee of the National Employment Lawyers Association (“NELA”) and has served as the Committee’s Legislation Liaison. Sam lobbied Congress and helped draft changes to the Motor Carrier Act Exemption to the FLSA.
Sam regularly makes presentations to the ABA, Florida Bar, National Employment Lawyers Association, Florida NELA, and local bar associations. Sam has been asked to train law clerks for the Middle District of Florida in wage & hour law.
Sam has significant experience developing complex damage models in class actions and working with experts in damages, statistical analysis, and industrial psychology.
Outside the office, Sam enjoys working out, cycling, and playing tennis and golf.
Florida State University School of Law
Sam graduated second in his class and was Executive Writing Editor for the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
University of Central Florida
B.S. Electrical Engineering, summa cum laude, 1986
The Florida Bar (Labor and Employment Section)
National Association of Employment Lawyers (NELA) – Sam is a member of the Wage and Hour Committee of the NELA and has served as the Committee’s Legislation Liaison.
American Bar Association (ABA) – Sam served on the Board of Editors of the Second Edition of The Fair Labor Standards Act Treatise and drafted and edited Chapter 19, Collective Actions, and edited Chapter 20 Hybrid Class Actions, and is the past Florida Chapter Editor of Wage and Hour Laws, A State-by-State Survey. He is a Past Plaintiff-Employee Co-Chair of the Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee of the Section of Labor and Employment Law of the American Bar Association, an ABA FLSA Subcommittee Chair and the Legislative Liaison for the Wage & Hour Committee of the National Association of Employment Lawyers. Sam was the Associate Editor of the Supplements to The Fair Labor Standards Act (Gallagher, Ed.-In-chief); and an Author of Chapter 23, “Employment Agencies” in an update to Employment Discrimination Law (Weirich & Dardarian, Editors-in-Chief).
Sam is co-lead counsel in a gender discrimination class action on behalf of approximately 67,000 women that settled for more than $175 million and significant changes in the company’s employment practices.
Along with co-counsel, Sam represented employees in a race discrimination class action filed in Pensacola, Florida, which obtained a recovery of $132.5 million.
Sam also teamed with co-counsel to obtain class certification for more than 160,000 female current and former employees of Publix Super Markets suing for discrimination against female employees in various job benefits, including promotions, allocation of hours, job assignments, and job advancement, pay and employment opportunities. The case settled for $81.5 million in monetary relief and extensive injunctive relief.
Sam sued the Adam’s Mark Hotel on behalf of individuals who experienced discriminatory treatment while attending their Black College Reunion, resulting in a settlement of $2.1 million, $600,000.00 of which was earmarked for black colleges in Florida. Sam’s efforts on behalf of the plaintiffs in Adam’s Mark earned an award for Outstanding Service in Public Accommodations law from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee on Civil and Urban Rights and a Foot Soldier Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for Outstanding Service in Public Accommodations Law.
Sam has also litigated and resolved numerous multimillion dollar Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act equal pay and overtime pay collective action suits. Recent examples include:
Roberts et. v. TJX Companies, Inc., No. 1:13-CV-13142 (D. Mass.). Among counsel for plaintiffs who defeated employers’ summary judgment motions and obtained conditional certification of collective action for merchandise assistant store managers at Marshalls and HomeGoods stores nationwide, excluding California. Settled for $31,500,000.
Griffith et al. v. Landry’s, Inc., No. 8:14-cv-03213 (M.D. Fla.). Among class counsel in certified class action for unpaid minimum wages under the Florida Constitution for tipped employees at eleven Chart House and Landry’s Seafood House restaurants in Florida. Settled for over $3,000,000 in compensation and other benefits.
Boyd et al. v. SFS Communications, LLC, No.: 15-cv-03068-PJM (D. Md.). Among class counsel for certified class and collective action claiming unpaid minimum wage, unpaid overtime compensation, and improper unauthorized deductions by joint employers in telecommunication industry and obtaining judgment for approximately $2,000,000 for class and approximately $2,000,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
Sam has argued appeals that resulted in precedent-setting cases in wage and hour law, including:
Freixa v. Prestige Cruise Services, LLC, 853 F.3d 1344 (11th Cir. 2017) (established that for the Retail Sales or Service Establishment Exemption of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 217(i)(1), to apply the regular rate paid to the employee must exceed one and one-half times the federal minimum wage on a workweek basis versus averaging of this calculation over the entire employment tenure);
Polycarpe v. E & S Landscaping, Inc., 616 F.3d 1217 (11th Cir. 2010) (reversing five summary judgment orders of five courts and establishing broad interpretation of enterprise coverage under the FLSA);
Bailey, et al. v. Gulf Coast Transportation, et al., 280 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2002) (establishing right to injunctive relief in FLSA retaliation cases).