Pechman Law Group PLLC has filed a wage payment lawsuit against BMS Cat, a Texas-based company specializing in disaster recovery, for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime pay to cleaning workers they provided to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The Complaint claims that the cleaners were paid below minimum wage and denied overtime while disinfecting areas in the hospital for COVID-19 patients. The lawsuit was reported in the New York Daily News.
The Complaint claims that when the workers started in March and April 2020, they were paid the minimum wage of $15. However, beginning on July 1, 2020, when the pandemic slowed, the workers had their pay cut to $12.25, below the New York City’s minimum wage. The workers would work up for 49 hours per workweek and were not paid the statutorily required overtime wage rate for hours worked over 40 per workweek. The workers would mop, sweep, sanitize, and disinfect hallways, patient rooms, bathrooms, and any other areas and surfaces exposed to COVID-19 patients.
Cleaning workers have been on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic as high-quality cleanliness and sanitation are essential to protect our health and safety. These essential workers are often underpaid and owed overtime. When employees are paid a fixed weekly salary or day rate, they are not receiving overtime pay at one and one half (1 ½) times their regular hourly rate of pay.
Given the increase in need of cleaning workers during this global pandemic to maintain high standards of hygiene, many cleaning workers are working over 40 hours per week and are, therefore, entitled to overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law, cleaning workers should be paid overtime of one and a half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 each week. For example, for a cleaning worker paid at the New York minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, all hours that he/she works over 40 in a week should be paid at $22.50.
If you are a cleaning worker who has a question about wage theft, or if you are an employer and are seeking guidance as to how to pay your employees correctly, please call the attorneys at Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500 for a free consultation.