Ecolab Inc. recently agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by exterminators in California for $7.5 million. The company was accused of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws by withholding overtime pay.
The plaintiffs in the case claim Ecolab misclassified exterminators as exempt employees, meaning they would not receive any overtime pay. These exterminators claimed they routinely worked more than 40 hours in a week and had to work through breaks and meal times, but did not receive any extra compensation for doing so.
The class action lawsuit settlement will result in each member receiving an average of more than $5,000.
This was also not the first time Ecolab has been the target of significant lawsuits regarding wage and hour violations. In November 2013, a federal judge approved another major settlement after exterminators claimed Ecolab illegally denied them overtime pay. That case settled for $29 million. With such a significant settlement less than a decade ago, the company still apparently did not learn that it needs to properly classify its workers for purposes of wages and overtime.
Employer violations of the FLSA are often only punished because affected workers come forward with information about the violations, prompting investigations and enforcement. For more information about how you can hold an employer liable for denying wages or overtime pay, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group to discuss your case and your next legal steps.