The Saints — on top of all their other troubles — are facing a lawsuit from the longtime personal assistant to team owner Tom Benson.
Rodney Henry, who worked with the Saints for 25 years before he was fired June 24, claims the organization owes him for unpaid overtime that he worked while routinely putting in 16-hour days.
His lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in New Orleans by attorney Christopher Williams, claims the Saints had him on salary rather than working by the hour, meaning he was not entitled to overtime pay under federal labor law.
That’s a status usually reserved for supervisors and other higher-ups, and Henry now argues that he is entitled to be paid the typical 11/2 times his regular salary whenever he was asked to work more than 40 hours a week.
The Saints declined immediate comment on Henry’s lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Henry, who lives in Jefferson Parish, said he made about $50,000 a year working as the personal assistant to Benson and that he frequently went over the 40-hour threshold, though he does not specify exactly how much overtime pay he believes he is owed.
The suit claims Henry worked as late as 9 p.m. picking up dinner for the Bensons or driving them places. Sometimes, his workday would start at 4 a.m., such as during the Carnival season, when he was told to buy king cakes before Randazzo’s Bakery ran out.
The suit claims that throughout the Saints’ training camp in 2014 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Henry worked from 5 a.m. — when he woke up to buy Benson newspapers — to 9 p.m.
The suit adds that for the team’s home games, Henry typically would work 10 hours, driving Benson to and from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as well as bringing him food and drinks during the game. For away games, he also would carry the Bensons’ luggage, and his duties stretched over two days.
When the Pelicans played home games during basketball season, Henry says, he would typically work 14-hour days. In addition, he was considered on-call whenever there were no ongoing activities, the suit says.
Given his responsibilities, the suit argues, Henry should have been treated as an employee who was entitled to overtime. But the team “ignored its obligations and continuously refused to pay him for his overtime work,” the suit alleges.
In addition, Henry claims that his work agreement with the Saints entitled him to twice his normal salary for the year if someone other than Benson fired him. Henry alleges he was fired by Pat McKinney, the Saints’ director of human resources, without receiving the extra compensation.
The suit doesn’t say why Henry was fired — only that he was increasingly isolated from Benson toward the end of his employment.
Before joining the Saints, Henry worked at one of Benson’s car dealerships for five years.
Henry’s is one of multiple lawsuits pending against Benson, 88, who has been ensnared in litigation spanning several courtrooms in New Orleans and Texas after he announced that at his death, he wants to leave control of his billion-dollar business empire to Gayle, his third wife, and not to his daughter and grandchildren, as he had long planned.
The latest lawsuit was filed one day after the Saints fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, whose unit was the worst in the NFL as of the beginning of this week. The Saints have a 4-6 record, are last in their division and were crushed 47-14 Sunday in Washington.