Although arbitration was not designed to handle class actions or collective actions, mediation with the help of an arbitrator can be achieved for a group of plaintiffs, with the help of class representatives, as in the recent wage and hour lawsuit against Google Fiber Inc. and ITC Service Group Inc.
Google Fiber hired ITC as a contractor to install and service Google’s products in Kansas City, one of the cities in which Google provides its own brand of internet and TV services. While working on Google Fiber’s products, employees for ITC allege they were made to perform work for which they were never paid, including work they performed before their shifts began, and work they did over their unpaid lunch breaks when they were “clocked out.”
The lawsuit further alleged supervisors were misclassified as exempt from overtime, even though they allegedly did not meet all the requirements for the FLSA’s overtime exemption.
When the lawsuit was first filed, ITC was the only defendant listed on the complaint, but Google Fiber was later added as a second defendant. Not only were the ITC workers performing work for Google Fiber, but they also allege that they were made to announce themselves as Google employees and wear gear bearing the Google brand while on the job. As a result, the complaint alleged Google was at least partially responsible for the alleged wage and hour violations.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, ITC argued the allegations should be handled in individual arbitration, since the employees involved in the lawsuit had signed temporary contract employment agreements that included an arbitration provision. However, the contract had no provision requiring employees to forfeit their right to class action or collective action, and the plaintiffs actually filed their own motion to compel arbitration, but on a collective (rather than individual) basis.
After many hours of “highly contested” negotiation, the two parties agreed to use collective arbitration to resolve the claims.
In the end, Google Fiber and ITC agreed to pay approximately $1.28 million to settle the claims of all the plaintiffs involved in the collective action. The amount each plaintiff will receive will vary based on their individual claims, but the amount of the settlement is based on the assumption that the average payout will be around $1,875 for each plaintiff. That number is based on an estimation that the 686 workers involved in the collective action each have 50 workweeks in the relevant time period in which they worked unpaid overtime. If they worked at least 38 hours for each relevant week, they would have been paid $37.50 for each of the estimated 50 weeks.
The two named plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit will each be paid an additional $15,000 as an incentive award, while the class counsel will be paid $12.50 for each workweek in the relevant time period that is eligible for payment to the plaintiffs.
A third named plaintiff decided to opt out of the collective action and will be pursuing his claims on an individual basis.
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 Hilton, DoubleTree, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chili’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying 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 Palatine and Barrington. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Orland Park and Oak Park 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 mis-classify 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 unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.