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Coach Interns Sue in Class Action for Unpaid Wages

Although the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guarantees fair wages for all employees working within the United States, the Act does provide certain exceptions. Interns, for example, can work without compensation, so long as they are in a learning environment while on the job.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit, Coach allegedly classified some of its employees as interns in order to avoid paying them the wages they were earning. Johnetta Campbell, who filed the lawsuit, worked for Coach from January 2012 through March 2012, during which time she would typically work five days a week, up to eight hours a day. She alleges that Coach has been illegally withholding pay from her and other employees since July 2008.

According to the wage and hour lawsuit, Campbell and other employees were hired by Coach to create trend boards, research new trends and fabrics, work in the warehouse, and perform other various tasks. As a result, Campbell alleges that Coach’s practice of refusing to pay them for the work that they performed is in direct violation of New York labor law. According to Campbell, Coach allegedly began classifying employees as interns in order to minimize labor costs and retain a higher profit value.

Both New York labor law and the U.S. Department of Labor provide criteria for interns that do not need to be paid. These requirements include:

  • The training is comparable to what the intern would receive in an educational program;
  • The training benefits the intern by imparting skills and knowledge of the business;
  • The intern does not take the place of regular employees and works only under close supervision;
  • The activities of interns do not provide an immediate advantage to the employer;
  • The interns are not necessarily entitled to a job after their training period has ended, and are free to take jobs elsewhere in the same field;
  • The interns are notified, in writing, that they will not receive any wages and are not considered employees for minimum wage purposes;
  • Any clinical training is performed under the supervision and direction of people who are experienced in that activity;
  • The interns do not receive employee benefits, such as health insurance;
  • The training is general and qualifies interns to work in any similar business in the industry;
  • Advertisements, postings, or solicitations for the internship program clearly discuss the educational benefits rather than employment, although employers may indicate that qualified graduates may be considered for employment.

Since the Great Recession hit our economy a few years ago, employers have been looking for ways to cut corners and keep their profits up. All too often, this means that they look for ways to increase output from their workers, while simultaneously finding ways to pay them less, or not pay them at all. Many employees tolerated this while the job market was crashing, for fear of being unable to find another job. Now that the economy has stabilized, employees have begun speaking out against abusive employers and bringing their claims to the courts.

The Illinois overtime attorneys and Chicago FLSA attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against Newspapers, Magazines, Media Companies, Hotels, Restaurants, Retail Stores and Chains, Banks and real-estate companies for misclassifying appraisers or loan officers as managers, 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.

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 Peoria and Rock Island. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Naperville and West Chicago 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.