CHICAGO (STMW) – A Skokie-based cleaning service that misclassified employees as independent contractors, depriving them of minimum wage and overtime they had earned must pay $501,893.44 in back wages and liquidated damages for 75 workers a federal judge ordered this week.

The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor against Skokie Maid and Cleaning Services, Ltd., which resulted from investigations conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, a release from the Department of Labor said.

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“It is unacceptable for any employer not to pay workers their rightfully earned wages or to classify workers as independent contractors to circumvent wage laws,” Keith Chaikin, acting regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest, said. “The Labor Department is committed to seeing that these workers are compensated in accordance with the law.”

The default judgement was issued by U.S. District Court Judge James F. Holderman.

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The suit alleged that the company, which operates as Skokie Maid, misclassified 75 current and former cleaning employees as independent contractors and willfully failed to pay them for all hours worked. The employees also were not compensated with overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, as required. Finally, the defendant failed to keep proper payroll records, the release said.

The judgement requires Skokie Maid to pay $250,946.72 in back minimum wage and overtime compensation plus an equal amount in liquidated damages for the period of Nov. 16, 2008 to July 31, 2011. The Wage and Hour Division also assessed civil penalties of $70,125.

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