Chicago, IL: (Sep-18-07) A class action lawsuit was brought against United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and janitorial contractors, alleging that they failed to pay their employees according to federal overtime and minimum wage laws. According to the lawsuit filed with the assistance of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), janitors were misclassified as "independent contractors" and worked as much as 60 hours a week without being paid overtime. The janitors' employer also illegally stripped money out of the workers' wages to pay for insurance that provided little if any benefit to the workers. Although UPS denied that it employed the janitors, the plaintiffs alleged that it exercised control over the janitors' working conditions and should be held accountable for the actions of its subcontractors.
In a settlement reached, almost 500 janitors who cleaned UPS facilities, hotels, and other properties in Illinois and Texas have won $1.25 million. The janitors, who will receive varying amounts up to $50,000 from the settlement, were employed by cleaning firms, which contracted with UPS and other major corporations to provide services in Chicago, Dallas and San Antonio. Judge Amy St. Eve of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has approved the final portion of the settlement. The settlement is the latest in a growing number of lawsuits over unlawful employment practices, known as "wage and hour" claims, involving the practices of janitorial subcontractors of major US corporations. [ASSOCIATED CONTENT: UPS JANITORS]