February 21st, 2013

Many Minnesota readers may know that employers are required to pay wages at one and one-half times an employee’s regular rate for hours in a workweek that exceed 40. The federal law containing that provision is the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Recently, janitors who work onsite at Target stores — a favorite of many Minnesotans — agreed to a preliminary settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging unpaid overtime. However, the suit was not against the Target Corporation. Rather, the janitors are employees of a Florida-based company called Diversified Maintenance Systems.

In their complaint, the janitors alleged that they were required to work overtime hours at Target stores in the Twin Cities, in some cases up to 80 hours a week, without receiving full overtime wages. A Minneapolis based organization, the Center of Workers United in Struggle, helped the janitors with the mechanics of organizing and filing their lawsuit.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Florida company will pay $675,000 to members of the class action, which might number as many as 250 janitors. The agreement also does not require the company to admit to any liability under the FLSA or other applicable laws.

Whether an employer is subject to the FLSA depends on the nature of its business. The FLSA typically applies to all employers and enterprises engaged in interstate commerce. In this case, a Florida company that provides services in Minnesota is likely subject to the FLSA’s requirements.

As this post illustrates, employees may not always be aware of their rights under applicable employment laws. Yet employment protections may apply, even to positions that pay minimum wage. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to advise workers of their rights.

Source: MPR News, “Target store janitors reach wage settlement,” Sasha Aslanian, Feb. 15, 2013.

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