Articles Posted in Wage and Hour Law

While the government was quick to hand out Business Interruption Grants to businesses across the country struggling from the effects of the pandemic-induced shutdown, company’s applying for the grant did have to meet certain criteria. The companies needed to be able to prove they had been financially impacted by COVID-19, and that they would use the money from the grants for necessary business expenses, such as payroll. What was less widely discussed was the fact that recipients of grants also needed to abide by all city, state, and federal labor laws applicable to their business, something Tank Noodle allegedly failed to do.

The Vietnamese restaurant was asked to return the grant money it received after federal investigators found they were in violation of several labor laws, including allegedly withholding wages from their employees. Tank Noodle also received two loans from the Payment Protection Program totaling almost $400,000, although it is not yet clear whether they will be made to pay back that money in addition to the grant money they received.

Poor working conditions for very little pay is a systemic and long-standing problem throughout the restaurant industry, and it’s not limited to fast-food restaurants. High-end restaurants are equally likely to ignore labor laws, and white employees are just as often subject to very low pay as their minority coworkers (although white servers do tend to receive larger tips).

In the summer of 2020, amidst the nationwide social unrest and calls for racial justice, several Chicago restaurants were accused of abusing their staff, including allegations of racism. Some of those restaurants were forced to permanently shut down as a result of the accusations, but Tank Noodle managed to keep its kitchen open.

Tank Noodle, a Vietnamese restaurant located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, hired a Vietnamese server in 2018, explaining the server could start right away, but that the only pay they would receive would be in tips. The server took the job because they needed the money, not realizing how low the pay would be or the lack of transparency at the restaurant when it came to tips. Continue reading ›

Effective January 1, 2019, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq., requires employers to reimburse employees for all “necessary expenditures” or losses that an employee incurs in the scope of their employment. Prior to the amendment, Illinois law generally did not require employers to reimburse employees for business expenses. Illinois is now the ninth state to impose such a reimbursement requirement on employers—joining states such as California, Iowa, and New Hampshire which have similar laws.

The IWPCA defines necessary expenditures as “all reasonable expenditures. . . required of the employee in the discharge of employment duties and that inure to the primary benefit of the employer.” In addition to the necessary expenditure requirement, for an expense to be reimbursable: (1) the employer must have “authorized or required” the expense; and (2) the employee must request reimbursement of the expense incurred along with all appropriate documentation validating the expense within 30 days of incurring the expense—unless the employer’s reimbursement policy provides for a longer period. The law specifically excludes the following types of losses from those that an employer is obligated to reimburse: (1) losses due to an employee’s own negligence; (2) losses due to normal wear; and (3) losses due to theft unless the theft was a result of the employer’s negligence. Continue reading ›

Class action and collective action lawsuits are both important tools for plaintiffs with common complaints against the same defendant. Both types of lawsuits allow plaintiffs to do essentially the same thing in terms of the rights they can win for plaintiffs, but with one distinct difference.

In class actions, all the potential plaintiffs that can be identified are automatically included in the class unless they opt out. By contrast, collective actions require potential class members to submit a valid claim in order for them to be included in the lawsuit. Each type of lawsuit has its own procedural rules but, according to the Eleventh Circuit Court, the filing of one type of lawsuit does not invalidate a lawsuit of the other kind, even if both were filed by the same plaintiffs.

Four sheriff’s deputies in Lee County, Florida filed a collective action against their sheriff, Michael Scott, for allegedly requiring them to work overtime without properly compensating them for the extra hours they worked. The collective action alleges Scott violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by refusing to pay the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate when they worked more than 40 hours a week. Continue reading ›

We live in a world in which everyone constantly feels like they don’t have enough time, which is why most of us hate to feel like anyone is wasting our time. That feeling only gets worse when we don’t have any control over it, such as when our employer keeps us waiting.

According to a recent wage and hour lawsuit filed against Labor Ready, a temp agency, the company allegedly kept its temporary workers waiting to receive assignments without paying them for the time they spent waiting. The company also allegedly refused to pay them for the time they spent traveling to their assignments and also allegedly charged them a fee to cash their paychecks.

Most workers don’t think of the time they spend traveling to and from work as time they should be paid for, but there are certain instances in which that time is compensable. For those who work at the same location every day and simply commute between home and work, no payment for that time is required. On the other hand, some workers who are required to travel between different work sites in the course of a day should be paid for the time they spend traveling between sites.

The same goes for those who need to check in at one location before traveling to another site to perform their actual tasks for the day. This can sometimes be the case for those working for temp agencies when they’re technically employed by the temp agency, but the work they’re actually doing is for the agency’s client, usually at a separate location. Continue reading ›

With so many labor laws at the federal, state, and city levels, it’s no wonder employers and employees alike sometimes get confused as to which laws apply to them, and in the event of conflicting regulations, which ones take priority.

The federal Department of Labor (DOL) exists to help enforce labor laws, conduct investigations into employers suspected of violating labor laws, and help educate employers on how to implement and maintain proper labor practices. Recently, the DOL reached an agreement with Subway in which the department agreed to help the giant subway chain develop training materials in order to instruct its franchisees on how to abide by federal labor laws.

According to the agreement, labor officials will attend meetings of Subway’s owners, as well as the company’s yearly convention. The parties have also agreed to share data regarding completed investigations into the employment practices of franchisees so both Subway and the DOL can analyze the data and come up with new ways to promote compliance with federal labor laws among all of Subway’s franchisees.

Under the terms of the agreement, Subway will also be able to decide whether its franchises should have their status stripped as a result of its record of violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue reading ›

In addition to defining things like overtime and the minimum wage, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to maintain several other labor practices in order to make sure they are not taking advantage of their workers. For example, the FLSA requires employers to provide all their workers with detailed wage statements that list the pay period, the number of hours worked by the employee, the amount of wages earned, wages withheld, and wages paid. Employers are required to maintain records of all this information for at least seven years with the possibility of hefty fines from a court or a government body, such as the Department of Labor, if they fail to do so.

In addition to the FLSA, each state has its own laws protecting the employees that work within its boundaries. California not only has a higher minimum wage than the federal limit, but also requires employers to provide all their non-exempt hourly workers with regular meal and rest breaks throughout the day: one paid, uninterrupted rest break after every four hours of work and one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break for every five hours of work. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, they are entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, tips, bonuses, etc. earned that day.

California labor law also requires employers to provide their workers with all the wages they’ve earned within a timely manner (72 hours) after their termination of employment. If an employee provides at least 72 hours notice prior to the termination of their employment, then all their wages are due upon termination. Continue reading ›

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay their workers in a variety of ways, including an hourly wage, an annual salary, by the day, by the job, or on commission. But no matter how employees are paid, the FLSA requires the amount to be no less than the federal minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour.

In addition to the minimum wage, the FLSA also defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. For all overtime worked, employees are entitled to one and one-half times their normal rate of pay, regardless of the method of their payment. The FLSA does allow for certain types of employees to be held exempt from the overtime requirement, but it is very specific about the qualifications employees need to meet in order to be legally considered overtime exempt.

According to a recent collective action wage and hour lawsuit against Citizens Bank, the financial company allegedly deducted overtime wages from its mortgage loan officers. U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab recently certified the collective action, which means all the eligible employees who worked at Citizens Bank as mortgage loan officers will have the opportunity to opt into the collective action and submit their claims for relief. Those claims will then be used to determine how much the plaintiffs receive if the lawsuit is settled or awarded to the plaintiffs. Continue reading ›

Uber has agreed to settle two class-action lawsuits brought by its drivers. One was started in Massachusetts, the other in California, where drivers sued to be considered employees eligible for benefits and not just independent contractors. Under the settlement, they do remain contractors, but Uber will pay up to $100 million to be shared by as many as 385,000 drivers.

Our Maywood, Joliet and Berwyn 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. We represent call center workers who are forced to work overtime but are not paid time and half 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.

Like everything else, automated timekeeping systems have their advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they make timekeeping and bookkeeping much easier and less labor intensive, especially for large corporations with many employees. On the other hand, employers who use automated timekeeping systems need to make sure they have a system in place to make adjustments whenever an employee works longer hours than they were initially scheduled for.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is defined as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. Most employees working in the United States are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked. There are exceptions to the overtime requirement, but the FLSA is very specific about the types of workers that can be considered exempt from overtime.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Zillow Inc., the online real estate company allegedly failed to properly compensate its inside sales consultants for the overtime they worked. The class action lawsuit alleges Zillow used an automated timekeeping system and failed to make adjustments to the timekeeping records when employees worked through their breaks or after their scheduled shift had ended. Continue reading ›

When many people think of unpaid internships they might think of fetching coffee or sorting mail. They rarely think of unpaid interns as performing some of the primary jobs of the industry.

Internships have long been a way for new professionals to gain experience and get a foot in the door in a particular industry. Many people are willing to take unpaid internships in the hope it will mean greater opportunity for them later in their career.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does allow companies to use unpaid interns, but only if the internship is considered a valuable learning opportunity for the intern. That means it must be comparable to taking a class on a related subject, and the company cannot significant benefit from the work the unpaid interns performed. Continue reading ›

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