Wage and hour lawsuits in which plaintiffs allege they have been misclassified as independent contractors have become increasingly common in recent years.
The entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive in those who like the idea of being their own boss, but there’s no advantage when you have someone else as your boss, without any of the benefits that employee status entails.
According to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against the Bohemian Club in California, the club allegedly misclassified its valets as independent contractors.
The Bohemian Club is an exclusive, men-only club just north of San Francisco. It offers business meetings and parties and caters to politicians, industry leaders, and other power figures. They also cater summer gatherings in a wooded area called the Bohemian Grove, a 2,7000 acre retreat located in Monte Rio.
Gabriel and Jacob, the two plaintiffs who filed the wage and hour class action lawsuit, worked as valets for several of the club’s summer events. Their responsibilities included cleaning, fetching firewood, starting fires, cooking, stocking the refrigerators, delivering newspapers, making coffee, and serving cocktails.
Gabriel and Jacob allege they were made to work 18-hour days and be on call 24 hours a day. They were allegedly not paid overtime and were allegedly denied meal and rest breaks.
Under California labor law, employers are required to provide all their hourly workers with breaks throughout the day: one paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes after every four hours of work and one unpaid meal break of at least half an hour for every five hours worked. If an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, she is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, tips, and bonuses earned that day.
The Bohemian Club allegedly avoided paying its valets for all the time they worked by classifying them as independent contractors, rather than employees.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require companies to pay independent contractors overtime because it assumes independent contractors are in a position to negotiate their rates. Because independent contractors are not afforded protection under the FLSA, the law provides a strict definition of independent contractors.
Under the FLSA, a worker can be considered an independent contractor if she chooses the jobs she takes on, makes her own hours, wears what she wants while working, and controls the environment she works in. Any worker who does not fulfill all these requirements (as the valets surely did not) must be paid at least minimum wage and all the benefits (such as health insurance and social security) employees normally receive.
Since Gabriel and Jacob allegedly did have any control over their work environment or the hours they worked, they cannot legally be considered independent contractors if their claims prove true.
Gabriel and Jacob allege the Bohemian Club tried to have them sign wage and hour claims releases in return for a payment of $250-$1,000. They refused to sign the releases and instead, filed their wage and hour lawsuit seeking class certification, injunction, damages, and penalties against the Bohemian Club.
Our Maywood and Hillside wage and hour attorneys and unpaid overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
Nationwide Consumer Rights is based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace. We represent clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at 630-333-0333 or through our online form.