Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor sues 2 Chicago-area cleaning companies, owners to recover unpaid wages and damages for 135 employees
Wage and Hour Division investigations reveal violations of Fair Labor Standards Act
CHICAGO -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed lawsuits seeking back wages and liquidated damages for 135 workers of two Chicago-area cleaning companies following investigations conducted by its Wage and Hour Division. The two suits, filed by the department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions by Super Maid LLC in Romeoville and Skokie Maid and Cleaning Service LTD in Skokie, and their respective owners.
"It is unacceptable for any employer not to pay workers their rightfully earned wages," said Karen Chaikin, acting regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest. "The Labor Department is committed to seeing that these cleaning companies pay their workers in accordance with the law."
The suit against Skokie Maid and Cleaning Service LTD, which operates as Skokie Maid, and owner Jadwiga Malewicka alleges that the defendants misclassified cleaning employees as independent contractors and willfully failed to properly pay 75 of them. Specifically, Skokie Maid failed to compensate workers for time spent at the office as well as time spent traveling from the office to the first job site of the workday. Additionally, workers were not paid for their first two weeks of work or days spent in training, which in some cases resulted in earnings that fell below the hourly federal minimum wage rate. Workers also did not receive additional compensation for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Finally, the defendants failed to keep proper records. The department has assessed civil money penalties of $70,125 for willful minimum wage and overtime violations.
The suit against Super Maid LLC, which operates as Supermaid, and owner Paul Krawczyk alleges that at least 60 employees are owed back wages. The Wage and Hour Division found that employees of Super Maid were paid a flat rate per house cleaned, regardless of the amount of time it took to clean the house, and that cleaners were not compensated for all hours worked including travel time between cleaning assignments. These practices resulted in cleaners earning less than the hourly federal minimum wage rate. Additionally, employees did not receive additional compensation for overtime hours, and the company failed to maintain accurate payroll records.
Both cases are being litigated by the department's regional solicitor in Chicago.
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat both to employees entitled to good and safe jobs, as well as to employers who obey the law. Too often employees are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Honest employers have a difficult time competing against scofflaws. The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and to level the playing field for employers that play by the rules.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
Solis v. Skokie Maid and Cleaning Service LTD doing business as Skokie Maid, and Jadwiga Malewicka Civil Action Number: 11-cv-08688
Solis v. Super Maid LLC doing business as Supermaid, and Paul Krawczyk Civil Action Number:11-cv-07485
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.