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Ecolab Settles Wage and Hour Class Action for $7.5 Million


Most people are well aware of the overtime laws laid out by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It defines overtime as all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. Under the FLSA, employees are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate of pay for all overtime worked. This applies to all employees throughout the country so most workers are familiar with it.

What a lot of employees are not familiar with are the exceptions to the overtime rules. Under the FLSA, employees can be held exempt from overtime compensation if they earn an annual salary of at least $23,600 and can be considered either administrative, executive, or professional employees. Rather than allowing employers to simply label their workers under one of these categories, the FLSA is very specific about the requirements employees need to meet in order to qualify for the overtime exemption.

In order to qualify for the overtime exemption under the administrative category, an employee must perform primarily office work and provide administrative support directly to an executive. An executive must spend more than half her time managing other employees, be able to discipline those employees, and have direct say in the hiring and firing of those employees in order to qualify for the overtime exemption. The professional category consists of all those workers who require a particular set of skills or level of education in order to do their jobs. Actors, doctors, lawyers, and musicians are some of the workers who typically qualify for the overtime exemption under the professional category.

Some employers have been known to misclassify their employees as exempt from overtime in order to get the most work out of them for the lowest cost. The executive and professional categories are the ones in which employees are most likely to be misclassified as overtime exempt, even if they don’t meet all the requirements for the category. Because many workers aren’t familiar with the overtime exemption regulations, employers can often get away with underpaying their workers for years.

Ecolab, a water, hygiene and energy technology company, is one employer that was recently accused of allegedly misclassifying its employees in order to avoid paying them the premium overtime rate. The class action wage and hour lawsuit alleges Ecolab failed to pay its pest-elimination service specialists overtime when they worked more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week.

Rather than continue to dispute the allegations in court, Ecolab has agreed to settle the wage and hour lawsuit for $7.5 million. Of that settlement amount, $2 million will go to pay attorneys’ costs and fees. After that each class member can expect to receive at least $100 from Ecolab as their share of the settlement.

The settlement for the class action lawsuit has already gained preliminary approval and a hearing for final approval is scheduled for December. If the court decides to approve the settlement at that point, class members will be able to expect to see their checks in the mail shortly thereafter.The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips against Pest elimination server providers, Banks, Mortgage Brokerage, Real-Estate Brokerages, financial services companies and private security firms. We have offices conveniently located in Oak Brook and Chicago, Illinois. Contact the Berwyn and Oak Park overtime lawyers and attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095. We are looking to represent various specialists such as pest elimination personnel, financial advisor associates, appraisers, loan and mortgage brokers who have not been paid overtime and have been mis-classified as managers.