Although employers are usually very familiar with the requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, many of them try to find ways around it by misclassifying employees. Often this happens when employers classify workers as overtime exempt, even when the employees don’t fit the federally mandated requirements for overtime exemption. In other cases, employers will try to claim that workers are not employees of the company at all, but rather independent contractors. As with overtime exempt status, the Fair Labor Standards Act provides specific requirements, which an employee needs to fulfill in order to be legally considered an independent contractor.
These requirements include the ability of the employee to choose when and where they perform their work. True independent contractors have a considerable amount of autonomy in choosing their hours, venue, and what they wear while they work. These are the kinds of parameters a court considers when ruling in cases of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act when the defendant claims that the worker was never an employee of the company.
In a recent employment lawsuit against Pin Ups, two exotic dancers have sued the club where they worked for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit alleges that the dancers were misclassified as independent contractors for the club when they did not fit the requirements for that classification. According to the lawsuit, the club regulated all aspects of the dancers’ work, including their hours, the amount of time they spent dancing, their attire, and how they interacted with the customers. Club managers also allegedly fined dancers for arriving late, for not appearing onstage when their names were called, or for failing to be dressed and ready on the dance floor within 30 minutes of arriving. Far from meeting the requirements of an independent contractor, these are all things an employer would normally regulate.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that management demanded daily fees from the dancers. These ranged from $35 to $95 and included “bar fees”, “DJ fees”, “breathalyzer test fees”, “leave early fees”, and even “slow day fees”.
Furthermore, the club never paid the dancers wages for the hours that they worked, much less the requisite overtime compensation whenever they worked more than 40 hours in a week.
One of the dancers, Amanda Berry, alleges she was unlawfully fired for being pregnant. In February, upon learning that Berry was pregnant, a manager allegedly told a subordinate to “put (Berry) in the book since this is her last day to work.”
The club will no doubt use the fact that they never paid the dancers wages as evidence that the dancers were not employees of the club. To many people, an employee is defined as a worker who earns hourly wages or a salary from her employer. However, courts are required to look at more specific circumstances when determining the employment status of an employee or group of employees. For example, a lawsuit filed in 2009 against Galardi South Enterprises also involved dancers at a club which did not pay them wages. The judge still ruled that the dancers fit the requirements of employees of the club and awarded the class action of dancers $1.55 million.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for misclassifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, 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 these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Naperville and Waukegan. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Wheaton, Waukegan, and Elgin 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.