Wage Violations and the Hospitality Industry

Hospitality industry's dirty laundryThe hospitality industry, and hotels and motels particularly, are hotbeds for wage and hour violations, with unscrupulous or unknowledgeable employers cheating employees out of hard-earned wages. If you are a hotel or motel employee, here are some common violations to watch out for:

Employee Sharing:

Many hotel owners own multiple hotels or multiple locations of one hotel brand. It is not uncommon for these establishments to share employees by having employees work at more than one location. Some employers who share employees issue separate paychecks for hours worked at each location. This runs afoul of the law if the employer fails to combine the hours for purposes of determining whether and how much overtime compensation is due. If the employee works under 40 hours in a workweek at each location, but the total hours worked at all locations combined exceed 40, the employer must pay the employee overtime for all hours in excess of 40. Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) ordered the owner of five St. Petersburg, Florida hotels who shared employees among the various hotels to pay back wages and liquidated damages due to the failure to combine hours worked at all locations.

Separate Payments:

To avoid paying overtime, some hotel owners illegally issue a paycheck for 40 hours of work in a workweek and a separate payment for hours in excess of 40 where the hours over 40 are paid at the straight time rate instead of time-and-a-half. Off-the-Clock Work: Requiring employees entitled to overtime pay to work off the clock is illegal. Two hotels in California were recently investigated by the DOL for requiring housekeepers to clock out at the end of their scheduled shift and then continue working to complete tasks such as cleaning unfinished guest rooms, stocking their cleaning carts and emptying their trash bins.

Automatic Lunch Deduction:

It is illegal to automatically deduct time for meal breaks that are not actually taken. If employees work through their meal break, the employer cannot deduct that time from their employees’ pay. In order to be deducted, the break must be uninterrupted such that the employee is not required to perform any job-related tasks while on break.

Flat Rates:

Two hotels in Georgia recently paid employees back wages and liquidated damages for paying housekeepers a flat rate per room cleaned. The flat rate amounted to less than the federal hourly minimum wage and the employer did not give additional pay when the employees worked over 40 hours per week, resulting in both minimum wage and overtime violations.

Undocumented Workers:

Some hotels hire illegal immigrants for “cheap labor” believing that these individuals are either not subject to wage and hour laws or will not complain of violations due to fear of deportation. The law is clear that undocumented workers working in the United States have the same rights to minimum wages and overtime that United States citizens have and that they may pursue lawsuits to collect unpaid wages and overtime. This discourages employers from hiring illegal aliens to the disadvantage of U.S. citizens competing in the labor market and employers who do not engage in these illegal practices.

If you work for a hotel or motel engaged in illegal pay practices, we are here to help. Please call us at (561) 447-8888 or visit us at www.shavitzlaw.com to learn more about your rights.

You Earned It,
Now Let's Go Get It.

Contact us to learn more about your right to overtime, fair pay, and equal treatment in the workplace.

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