Both state and federal governments create labor laws to prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers. For example, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guarantees that all employees working within the United States receive no less than the federal minimum wage and that they are properly compensated for all time spent working after eight hours a day and forty hours a week. In addition to the FLSA, states have their own labor laws to regulate employment within the bounds of the state.
California, for example, has labor laws that guarantee all hourly employees a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours that they spend working. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to a meal break lasting at least thirty minutes.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some employers to try to find ways to avoid abiding by these laws. In a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Kindred Healthcare, the company is accused of allegedly coercing employees of its hospitals, who worked 12-hour shifts, into signing away their right to a second meal break during their shift. Kindred denies the claims. Often times, when an employee signs a contract that waives their right to certain things granted them by law, courts rule that such rights cannot legally be waived, even if the employee willingly signs the contract.
According to California labor law, in the event that an employee misses one of her breaks, for any reason, she is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day. According to the recent wage and hour lawsuit, Kindred allegedly failed to pay its workers the proper compensation when they missed their breaks. The lawsuit also alleges that Kindred failed to pay employees the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week.
Five subclasses have already received class certification in this wage and hour lawsuit. One month before reaching a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs, Kindred had petitioned the court to decertify two of the subclasses in light of the fact that, according to Kindred, the employees had waived their right to a second meal break during their 12-hour shifts.
According to the petition, Kindred wanted to have the classes decertified so that it could have time to gather information on whether the employees signed the waiver of their own free will, or were coerced into signing as a condition of employment with Kindred. The court was skeptical and did not grant the petition. Instead, Kindred reached a preliminary settlement agreement with the five subclasses of employees. The settlement, which still requires the court to finalize it, is for $16.5 million, $6 million of which will go to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs.
The plaintiffs point out that the settlement is a compromise, taking into account “the possibility that if a settlement were reached after many months or even years of appellate process, the great expenses and attorneys’ fees of litigation may cause defendants to decrease what it was willing to offer.”
The Illinois class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against hospitals, senior and assisted living centers and large doctor and dental practices and chains 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 Lombard and Elmhurst. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Waukegan and Evanston 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.