Wage and hour law is back in Tennessee legal news after car wash workers at local Shur-Brite locations filed a wage-based federal lawsuit filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act against the Nashville company in May for unpaid wage from the company’s unfair timecard practices. As of July 4, over 50 present and former car wash employees have joined in the wage and hour lawsuit that would require payment of wages withheld by Shur-Brite’s allegedly illegal pay practices.
According to both the Nashville City Paper and The Tennessean who have covered this story, the wage and hour lawsuit alleges that Shur-Brite High Speed Car Wash owners knowingly, and illegally, forced employees to clock out when there were no cars to wash; on slow days, workers would be forced to clock out as often as 10 times during the day. Many workers would be at the car wash site for over 40 hours a week but only get paid for 15 at Tennessee’s minimum wage of $5.85 an hour. Some workers put in twelve hours days hoping to get paid for eight. Many it was unclear to workers when they were on or off the clock and not earning minimum wage.
Who would want this kind of job? Well, probably no one wants a job where they’re unfairly paid, but it appears many law-abiding people need it. These needy persons include those who know no better, such as teenagers, and those in need of immediate employment, including persons on parole or probation, former convicts with records that keep them from better paying jobs, and people whose unemployment has run out. Perhaps, as some claim, the convicts and many homeless whom Shur-Brite employed are paying their debt to society, but we have wage and hour laws in our democracy to prevent unfair pay practices, and the rights of our labor laws apply to all, as exploitive employers across the country are learning.
The present Nashville wage and hour lawsuit against Shur-Brite mirrors a class action lawsuit filed two months ago in Los Angeles against four California car washes for failure to pay minimum wage, to provide overtime pay, and to allow breaks and meals. It also reflects the growing number of federal lawsuits being filed under national wage and hour laws, which more than doubled between 2003 and 2006.
Unless you’re a wage and hour attorney, you’d be amazed how quickly unpaid hours add up, especially overtime hours, and how much pay an unethical employer can withhold through illegal timecard pratices. I’ve worked a number of these claims, including class action lawsuits to see that wrongly categorized Tennessee construction workers have receive the proper pay for their work through Tennessee’s prevailing wage law.
If your employer frequently changes your weekly schedule or does not pay you for work-required activities, you may have a wage and hour lawsuit on your hands. If your Tennessee employer requires you to be on-site but doesn’t pay you for this time, then you should speak with a wage and hour attorney about a possible wage and hour lawsuit. If your Tennessee employer has docked your pay, repeatedly refused to pay you overtime, or required you to work without pay, then you most definitely need to speak with one our Nashville-based employment law attorneys.
Typical settlement and court awards include backpay for unpaid wages, including overtime, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees. To speak with a Higgins, Himmelberg & Piliponis wage and hour attorney about Tennessee labor law or to report illegal pay practices by a Nashville or other Tennessee employer, give us a call at (615) 353-0930 or fill out our quick wage and overtime attorney form.