BY: Sommers Schwartz | IN: Employment Law
Metropolitan Children and Youth, Inc., also known as Renaissance Head Start, is facing a federal lawsuit over claims that employees were forced to work “off the clock” in violation of applicable wage and overtime laws.
Renaissance Head Start (Renaissance) provides custodial, educational, and developmental services to preschool age children to prepare them to enter elementary school grades. To carry out this business, the organization employs a number of hourly employees in various roles, including “Assistant Teachers.”
According to the complaint, the plaintiff, a former Assistant Teacher, alleges that she and other hourly employees were required to work off the clock because Renaissance “regularly required assistant teachers to arrive at work before their scheduled shifts to perform essential work tasks, such as setting up the class room and attending meetings with Teachers and other staff members.”
The class action lawsuit also claims that hourly employees were instructed not to include many essential pre- and post-shift work activities in their timesheets. Although Renaissance regularly required hourly employees to work more than 40 hours in a workweek, hourly employees were prohibited from submitting timecards that reflected more than forty hours in a single week.
The allegations levied against Renaissance are serious, and, if true, constitute violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, an employer is required to pay all non-exempt employees at a rate of one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek.
Failure to comply with the law carries stiff penalties. Specifically, for a willful violation as alleged in this case, an employer may be forced to pay the employee double the wages owed and is responsible for paying the prevailing plaintiff’s attorney fees.
The United States Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division has previously issued an opinion letter that pertains to wages payable to employees that work in “preschool” settings.
Renaissance operates at least seven preschools in Michigan, and the collective action lawsuit seeks to represent hourly employees at all of those locations.
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are currently interviewing current and former Renaissance employees to determine their right to money damages. If you worked for Renaissance Head Start and suspect that you have been a victim of wage theft and abuse, please contact us today – we’re here to help!
View all posts bySommers Schwartz