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Foreign Military Contractors Sued for Allegedly Failing to pay Overtime and Not Allowing For Enough Breaks

No matter where an employer’s headquarters are located, all employees working within the United States are entitled to all the rights accorded them under various state and federal labor laws. This includes minimum wage and overtime, which mandates all employees must be paid one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week.

Tatitlek and GeoNorth, two foreign companies that contracted dozens of employees to provide training to the U.S. military, are facing a class action wage and hour lawsuit for allegedly failing to provide overtime compensation. The employees were contracted as native role-players and interpreters to train Marines in realistic pre-deployment missions.

They were located in Twentynine Palms, California, one of the largest training bases for the Marines. The employees were hired as role-players to occupy a fictional Middle Eastern village where they played characters during the Marines’ training missions. According to the complaint, the missions varied from three to seven days, and the role players were allegedly required to be in character the entire time, allegedly without access to running water or electricity.

Their day allegedly began at 4 a.m. every morning when they ate breakfast. Then they worked from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. without any meal or rest breaks. After their shift ended at 5 p.m., employees were allowed to take dinner, but then they were required to interact with the Marines from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. They allegedly were not allowed to sleep before 10 p.m., but even after that hour, allegedly their sleep was often interrupted by mission scenarios. When their sleep was interrupted, they were unable to get five hours of uninterrupted sleep, and their day still began at 4 a.m.

In addition to regulating minimum wage and overtime, California labor law also requires employers to provide all hourly workers with meal and rest breaks throughout the day. For every four hours worked, an employee is entitled to a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes. For every five hours of work, an employee is entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least half an hour. For every day an employee misses one of these breaks, for any reason, she is entitled to one hour’s worth of pay, in addition to all wages earned that day.

Not only did the contracted companies allegedly fail to provide workers with these breaks, or the requisite compensation, but they also allegedly subjected employees to “oppressive, fraudulent, and/or malicious conduct.”

According to the lawsuit, these violations were “willful” because the employers allegedly knew the plaintiffs regularly worked overtime. The companies allegedly failed to accurately track the amount of time employees spent working, despite allegedly having the means to do so.

The employers can’t persuasively use lack of funds as an excuse for allegedly not properly paying their workers because, according to the lawsuit, the defendants were paid more than $300 million for their contract with the U.S. military.

The lawsuit is seeking unpaid overtime compensation for the employees, an equal amount of liquidated damages, interest, statutory penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  Tatitlek and GeoNorth deny all the claims and assert they did nothing wrong.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, 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.