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Federal and State Overtime Pay Violations

Labor Department Charges Cleaning Company Did Not Pay Overtime to Workers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- July 21, 2006 -- A cleaning service underpaid its workers and failed to provide overtime pay, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency seeks $1.8 million in unpaid back wages for about 386 employees of Southern California Maid Services and Carpet Cleaning or SCMS (Press Release, US Department of Labor, July 17, 2006).

Under federal law, certain employees must receive 1 1/2 times their regular pay rate per hour for time worked beyond 40 hours a week. State laws may provide stricter and more specific requirements.

After making an investigation, the Department concluded that SCMS did not pay adequate wages or overtime to its employees. It also charged that the cleaning service made employees work "off the clock" and did not keep accurate records.

Other Companies Accused of Violating Overtime Pay Laws

Nationwide, many other companies are the subject of overtime lawsuits, including Wal-Mart, Target, Pizza Hut, RadioShack and Starbucks. Often, employers attempt to avoid overtime pay standards by misinterpreting the law concerning the types of employees who are covered by overtime laws.

The law provides that employers need not provide overtime pay to professionals, executives, and administrators who work beyond 40 hours. For these exceptions to apply, the employees must be paid on a salaried basis and perform certain duties. An executive must direct the work of at least two full-time employees and have the authority to hire or fire employees. A professional must have advanced knowledge in science or learning or be in a creative position requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent. Administrators must perform office or non-manual work directly related to management or general business operations.

Recently, Pizza Hut agreed to two class action settlements estimated at $12.5 million. Although the company had classified their restaurant supervisors as managers or executives exempt from overtime pay, these workers spent most of their time handling food and working the cash registers. Starbucks settled a lawsuit in 2002 that also involved managers in the food service industry. RadioShack settled a California lawsuit in 2002 concerning the status of its retail managers. Currently, several lawsuits are pending against the company in other states.

Your Wage and Employment Case

The California Department of Industrial Relations has a web site that explains the state's overtime pay requirements. For more information about federal standards for overtime pay, see the Department of Labor web site.

Brayton Purcell is currently considering cases involving wage and overtime pay violations. If you feel that your employer has unjustly deprived you of overtime pay or forced you to work extra hours, please contact us. We will review your potential case free of charge and advise you of your legal choices.

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