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Marriott Cannot Escape Unpaid Break Lawsuit

One of the first things a company needs to do when it starts taking on employees is put in place employment policies and make sure they’re in line with all the relevant labor laws that apply to them (federal, state, local, etc.). It’s a good way for companies to protect themselves against potential wage and hour lawsuits, but it’s only the first step. They also need to make sure they’re educating all their employees and managers in order to make sure the policies are as effective as they can be.

No matter what employers have on paper, it is always possible for them to coerce their workers, either intentionally or unintentionally, into giving up some of their legally-mandated rights. This has been exemplified in the allegations of a wage and hour class action lawsuit that was recently filed against Courtyard by Marriott in California.

Under California labor law, all hourly, nonexempt employees are entitled to one paid, uninterrupted rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours they spend working. For every five hours of work, employees are entitled to one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break lasting at least half an hour. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, or is interrupted, for any reason, they are entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, tips, bonuses, etc. earned that day.

The wage and hour lawsuit against Marriott was filed by Maria A., who has worked as a housekeeper for Marriott since 1996. Maria alleges that, although Marriott had a formal policy of allowing employees to take their legally-mandated breaks, she was given so much work that she consistently needed to work through her breaks in order to get it all done.

Despite Marriott’s claims that it does not force its housekeepers to work through their breaks, Maria alleges she has not taken a single break in the more than ten years she has been working for Marriott. Judge Elihu Berle, of the Los Angeles Superior Court, noted that Maria’s testimony provides a factual dispute to Marriott’s insistence that employees were allowed to take all their breaks.

Because Marriott’s housekeepers allegedly did not have enough time to take their breaks and finish all their work, the pressure employees often feel to complete all their tasks can constitute coercion for employees to skip their breaks. As Judge Berle pointed out, managers will ask an employee why they did not get all their work done, but they won’t ask why an employee did not take their break.

The lawsuit further alleges Marriott failed to provide its employees with the requisite additional compensation for each day they missed a break and that they provided inaccurate wage statements that gave an incorrect employer address.

Marriott tried to have the wage statement claims dismissed, saying it did not cause any harm to the employees, but Berle denied that motion, arguing that California labor law automatically considers inaccurate pay stubs to be injurious to employees.

Maria filed a motion to certify a class of everyone who worked for Marriott as a housekeeper or house aid anywhere in the state of California any time in the four years before she filed her complaint.

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, 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, 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 Oak Lawn and Naperville. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Joilet, Schaumburg and Palatine 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.