Yet another company has been accused of trying to falsely classify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them minimum wage and proper overtime compensation as required by law. This time, the employer went so far as to have the employees sign an “independent contractor application” and an “independent contractor contract” before going to work for the company. However, there is ample evidence which the plaintiffs allege shows that these “independent contractors” were, in fact, hourly employees of the company.
The case is Seth D. Harris v. Skokie Maid and Cleaning Services Ltd. et al and the defendants in the case are Jadwiga Malewicka and her company, Skokie Maid and Cleaning Services, Ltd. The company provides cleaning services to homes and businesses in the north suburban area of Chicago. The lawsuit alleges that Malewicka and Skokie Maid knowingly and intentionally misclassified employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them the requisite minimum wage and overtime compensation between November 2008 and July 2011.
Malewicka allegedly assigned clients to the employees, set work hours, and issued detailed cleaning instructions. According to the judge’s written opinion of the case, all of this demonstrates that Malewicka “exerted a great degree of control” over her maids which she would not have had if they had been true independent contractors.
Additionally, if an item was broken while a home or business was being cleaned, Malewicka would allegedly deduct the cost of the broken item from the paycheck of the maid who broke the item. The lawsuit further alleges that Malewicka withheld two weeks of pay in case a maid quit without notice or before their six month anniversary working at Skokie Maid.
The maids allegedly had fixed pay and fixed hours, which denied them the opportunity to try to earn more money by raising their rates or performing individual jobs more quickly. All of these are things which a true independent contractor would be able to do. An independent maid would also provide her own cleaning supplies but the maids in this case allegedly did not.
Furthermore, Malewicka allegedly required the maids to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of hire. This contract stated that the maids agreed not to work for a competitor of Skokie Maid for at least a year after their employment with Skokie Maid ended. Non-compete agreements have been contentious in their own right as of late, but there would never be a reason for an independent contractor to be required to sign one.
In his written opinion on the case, U.S. District Judge James F. Holderman declared that Malewicka owed 75 people who worked for Skokie Maid a total of $250,946.72 in minimum wage and overtime compensation. He also said that she owed the same amount in liquidated damages, bringing the total to $501,893.44. Judge Holderman further directed the U.S. Labor Department to submit a proposed final judgment, which he said should order Malewicka to pay the money she owes. It should also include an injunction, which would bar Malewicka from further violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Illinois class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against service companies including maid and cleaning service companies for misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime and for erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online by filling in the form at the side of this blog.
The Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Waukegan and Arlington Hts. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Aurora and Joliet overtime lawyers 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.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago and represents 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 (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.