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Custodians gain class action status for wage lawsuit

Any business disputes or employee lawsuits can be costly, complex and lengthy. Recent business litigation between an Illinois-based company and some of its employees also shows how a lawsuit can grow.

A federal district court judge granted class action status to a 2015 legal action initiated by eight custodial workers against Capital Services Group. They alleged that this employer violated Minnesota and federal employment law by underpaying workers and by not providing proper records. A former cleaner and supervisor claimed that he was compelled to work seven days a week, was not paid a promised salary and that there was wage theft where workers were paid for less than the actual hours that they worked.

The judge, in granting class action status, also ruled that the company must conspicuously post information about the lawsuit in affected department stores cleaned by its employees. It must also provide payroll records that will allow attorneys to mail solicitations to hundreds of its employees.

The posted and mailed notice will be written in English, Spanish and Somali, according to the plaintiffs' attorney. He also said that it will contain an explanation of the case and consent forms which the employees can sign to join the class action.

Capital Building denied allegations that it used an electronic-payroll system to underpay its Minnesota workers who cleaned these department stores. It claimed that these eight original plaintiffs did not properly clock in at the beginning and end of their shifts, and failed to request detailed payroll information.

Capital Building cleans over 300 buildings in 25 states. The plaintiffs' attorney said that settlement negotiations were held in this lawsuit.

Proper preparation can help avoid these lawsuits or assist employers in employment disputes or government investigations. Getting the right information can help assure that businesses are complying with wage laws.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Worker lawsuit against Capital Building Services gains traction," By Neal St. Anthony, Nov. 28, 2015

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