Many Wisconsin residents may not be aware that overtime wages are governed by the federal government, not their individual employers. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, full-time and non-exempt workers must typically be paid at least time-and-one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40.
Employers, unfortunately, often fail to follow FLSA rules and they are often creative in doing this. Some employers miscalculate the overtime rate by using the wrong base pay amount; others force workers to work without clocking in, or to work through their lunch breaks. Many employers also avoid FLSA regulations by misclassifying workers. There are certain fields that are notorious for wage violations, and one of these is the maintenance industry. For example, the janitors who clean Target stores recently sued their employer for overtime violations.
The janitors are not employed by Target but rather a third-party maintenance company. They filed a class-action lawsuit against that company accusing it of forcing janitors to put in up to 80 hours a week without proper overtime pay.
The employer has decided to settle the lawsuit, but it has not admitted wrongdoing. It will reportedly pay $675,000 and that may benefit as many as 250 janitors who have worked in Target stores in the Midwest.
It is very important for workers who are victims of wage theft to stand up for their rights as these janitors have done. Hopefully, as more and more of these victims come forward and light continues to shine on this issue, employers will be forced to comply with the law. Although Target itself was not the employer of these janitors, the retail chain has been linked to five similar lawsuits in the previous 10 years, which unfortunately highlights a major employment rights gap in the field of janitorial work.
Source: MPR News, “Janitors at Target stores reach wage settlement,” Sasha Aslanian, Feb. 15, 2013