Not only is cheating your employees out of overtime pay or forcing them to work off the clock unethical and unprofessional, it is simply unlawful. Wage and hour lawsuits are common in the hospitality industry, often costing employers substantial amounts to resolve and settle. Most common are suits attributed to failure to pay overtime and off the clock working demands making employers susceptible to pay employees double the amount of backpay and various penalties due to the DOL. As two private hotel companies in Anaheim, California found out, it would have cost the companies much less if they had paid their employees correctly to start with. The Orange County Register, Margot Roosevelt, reports the facts.
Eighty-seven housekeepers, janitors, laundry workers and front-desk clerks at two Anaheim hotels were cheated out of overtime and forced to work off the clock, according to federal officials who collected $59,142 in back wages and damages from the hotels’ owners.
The hotels, the Ramada Plaza Anaheim and Hotel Indigo Anaheim, are owned through two private companies, New Century Enterprises LLC and Union Investments USA LLC. They are controlled by Stephen C. Hsu, president, and Danny Li, vice-president, according to U.S. Labor Department officials and hotel employees.
The hotels “failed to pay employees overtime for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week during some pay periods,” according to a labor department news release on Friday, Aug. 24. “Investigators also found the hotels failed to pay housekeepers for work they performed off-the-clock.
“The investigation found these employees punched out at the end of their scheduled shifts, but returned to work to complete unfinished tasks such as cleaning remaining guest rooms, stocking their cleaning carts, and emptying their trash bins.”
Investigators also cited the hotels for failing to maintain accurate payroll records.
“These two investigations help ensure…that employers compete on a fair-and-level playing field,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Rodolfo Cortez. “Employers must pay employees for all hours that they work.
Hsu and Li did not immediately respond to emails or phone messages left at their offices at the Hotel Indigo and the Ramada Plaza, which was recently rebranded as the Wyndham Garden Anaheim after a $3 million renovation.
The two hotels, on West Katella avenue near Disneyland, cater to theme park visitors.
Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.