A lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court Tuesday, accuses Servisair of intentionally rounding off the hours worked in the company's favor, docking lunch hours worked and using a time-keeping system that automatically reduces time worked for its employees at more than 20 airports around the country.
July 25--Employees of Houston-based Servisair provide a variety of services at airports nationwide -- cleaning planes, fueling jets and pushing wheelchairs. And now more than 170 workers are claiming in a federal lawsuit that they've been cheated out of millions in pay.
A lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court Tuesday, accuses Servisair of intentionally rounding off the hours worked in the company's favor, docking lunch hours worked and using a time-keeping system that automatically reduces time worked for its employees at more than 20 airports around the country. The suit, which is seeking class action status to represent the entire group, estimates each employee has been docked roughly five hours of overtime per week since at least 2010.
The company is one of the vendors that provide services for Houston's Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports.
A Servisair representative said the company hadn't been notified about the new lawsuit and had no comment.
More than 170 former and current employees from airports in New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois and Texas initially signed onto the suit, said New York-based attorney Andrew Glenn. The employees listed in the lawsuit work or have worked at the airport in the last six years.
The lawsuit accuses the company of deducting 30 minutes each day from workers' timecards for lunches that were not taken.
It also accuses the company of manipulating its time-keeping software system by rounding up start times, so that an employee who comes to work at 7:30 a.m. will only get paid from 8 a.m. and on. If the worker clocks out, for example, at 11:30 p.m., he will get paid for only up to 11 p.m., the lawsuit alleges. Pay is docked in the reverse situation, so if an employee starts work at 8:30 a.m., pay is docked by half an hour, the suit states.
The suit estimates that in the last three years, the company has shorted its employees ten of millions of dollars. It is seeking to recover overtime compensation, damages and attorneys' fees.
Glenn's law firm has sued Servisair threes times in the last year in Florida for similar violations. All three lawsuits were settled, he said.
"We weren't really aware of the gravity of the violations," Glenn said. "It became apparent there were widespread violations and time-keeping problems all around the country."
Rex Burch, a Houston employment lawyer who specializes in wage and hour law, called the subject of the lawsuit an "old-school violation" against companies. He said such lawsuits have typically been filed against hospitals where nurses or other hourly employees work through lunch or work overtime but receive automated time slips.
He said this recent lawsuit against Servisair will have a better chance of receiving the class action status in a New York federal court, as opposed to a Texas court.
And he noted the number of employees complaining -- 170 so far. "That's a lot of people to be saying there's a problem for there not to be a problem," Burch said.
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