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Super Maid ordered to pay $184,505 in back wages, damages to 55 misclassified employees following US Department of Labor lawsuit
Romeoville, Illinois, company misclassified maids as independent contractors
CHICAGO U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp of the Northern District of Illinois has ordered Paul Krawczyk, owner and operator of Romeoville-based Super Maid LLC, to pay 55 workers a total of $184,505 in back wages and liquidated damages. The order resolves a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and enjoins Krawczyk and Super Maid from violating the FLSA in the future.
An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that employees of Super Maid, which provides cleaning services throughout Chicago and northwest Indiana, were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to minimum wage, overtime and other protections of the FLSA.
"Super Maid and its owner demonstrated a reluctance to cooperate with investigators by failing to produce reliable records and to comply with wage laws," said Karen Chaikin, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest. "It is unfortunate that there are employers who believe they can exploit vulnerable workers through intimidation and harassment. This judgment sends a clear message that denying employees their rightfully earned wages will not be tolerated."
Krawczyk's claims that the maids were independent contractors were proven false by actions the company took, including requiring maids to sign noncompete agreements and not allowing them to clean homes other than those assigned by Super Maid. The company provided training, vehicles and cleaning equipment and set all work hours and assignments. Super Maid intimidated and threatened workers with disciplinary actions and loss of pay for exceeding time limits for cleaning. The company threatened to sue maids who violated the noncompete agreement.
The investigation determined maids were paid a flat rate per house cleaned, regardless of the amount of time it took, and were not compensated for all hours worked, including travel time between cleaning assignments. These practices resulted in maids earning less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Employees did not receive additional compensation for overtime hours, and the company failed to maintain accurate payroll records.
The investigation determined that 55 workers were due $92,252.50 in unpaid overtime and minimum wages. The court has ordered an equal amount payable to the maids in liquidated damages. The department's regional solicitor in Chicago litigated the case.
Under the FLSA, employers must distinguish employees from bona fide independent contractors. An employee as distinguished from a person who is engaged in a business of his own is one who, as a matter of economic reality, follows the usual path of an employee and is dependent on the business that he serves. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs13.htm.
The Wage and Hour Division enforces the FLSA, which requires employers to pay covered, nonexempt workers at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked. For more information about the FLSA, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).
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