Overtime & Minimum Wage Lawyers Answers: Am I entitled overtime? Can I get paid time and half? What should I do when my job won’t pay me for all my hours?
“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place).” – The Eagles.
Hotel workers are often some of the worst treated employees out there. Often minimum wage employees that are required to work around the clock until the work is done. I just came back from a family vacation, where I struck up a conversation with one of the cleaning ladies, an immigrant from Colombia. Every day she is scheduled for an eight hour day with a half hour lunch. At the beginning of her shift, she is assigned a certain amount of units to clean during her shift and must complete every unit which is often inspected by her boss. The employer apparently calculates the number of units to be cleaned based on the estimated time to clean a normal guest mess. Now, if every room has the theoretical “normal mess,” everything is fine and she can clean all the units within the allotted time.
But, she told me that normal rarely happens for every room. A drunken party ends up leaving bottles, sometime broken, all over the room, with spills and food chucked everywhere. She said it was not uncommon for people to make horrible messes in the bathrooms by wiping products on mirrors or leaving various personal items and grooming left all over the floor, simply because they know someone is going to clean it up. In fact, on the day that I spoke with her, a couple with a baby had left leaking dirty diapers throughout the unit and on the patio, baby powder caked in the tub, scraps of food left throughout the room from the baby, and week old food covered in mold left in the refrigerator (which requires the entire refrigerator to be bleached from top to bottom). To clean that unit, it took her three and a half time allotted for a “normal mess,” and combined with another couple really messy rooms, she expected to work well past her normal quit time. The next day, she confirmed that she stayed over three extra hours – which she surprising told me happens two to three times per week. Because her boss blames the cleaning staff for not working fast enough, he does not pay them beyond their normal hours if they have to work late to complete their assignments.
So, why am I blogging about this? Initially, don’t be a pig just because you know that there is someone that is coming into clean your mess. Who knows, maybe the people that left the diapers and remaining mess will read this blog and stop doing it in the future. If not, maybe someone else will remember this on their next visit to a hotel or resort.
But, on the employment law front, the employer’s refusal to pay for the added hours worked by the staff causes a lot of legal problems. First, under The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), every employee must be paid the federally mandated minimum wage for every hour worked. Because the resort cleaning staff was only being paid minimum wage for 40 hours per week to begin with, when hours are added, the average hourly wage now dips below the minimum wage, and the employer is now in violation of the FLSA.
Secondly, the FLSA and Ohio Fair Labor Standards Act require most employees to be paid at a rate of one and one half times their regular rate of pay for overtime hours – which is defined as all hours worked over 40 hours in any given workweek. Employers cannot avoid paying overtime by claiming that it should not have to pay overtime because the employee did not work fast enough. There is no gray area. Employee works overtime, the employee gets time and a half.
Amazing, these type of violations occur all the time. Recently, the United States Department of Labor announced a minimum wage and overtime payment settlement on just one of the many cases. Specifically, a Days Inn franchisee in San Bernardino owned by Sahkar Hospitality Corp. reported paying its cleaning staff a wage of $8 per hour, but really paid them $4 per room cleaned, without keeping track of the actual time worked by each employee. According to an investigation, the hotel ended up paying the cleaning workers less than $5 an hour, which is obviously far below the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. According to the investigation report, these employees typically worked more than eight hours of overtime per week during the hotel’s busiest periods – having to punch out without leaving. Remember, overtime or other wage violations do not have to occur often or even regularly. Failure to pay overtime even during one week is a violation of the FLSA.
As a result of these overtime and minimum wage violations, the hotel agreed to settle the case for by paying $123,678 in back wages and liquidated damages to 16 housekeeping employees.
On a final note to hotel employers – follow the legal requirements of the FLSA, not the Eagles’ lyrics: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Fair Labor Standards Act, contact the attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. Or maybe you are being misclassified as an independent contractor. The wage and hour lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.
The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.