Court Approves $5.95 million Settlement for Ecolab Workers

August 17, 2017

California Federal Judge, Phyllis J. Hamilton

A federal judge approved a settlement in the ongoing case of Route Sales Managers and Sales Service Route Managers  of Ecolab Inc. in California who said that they were misclassified as overtime exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California wage and hour laws. The FLSA case was approved by a California Federal Judge for $5.95 million. The judge also said that she would cut down an amount of $1.48 million for the attorney’s fees. Attorney fees in FLSA actions are born by the defendant if the Plaintiff prevails which is a powerful resolution mechanism.

Fair Pay for Ecolab Employees

According to the judge Phyllis J. Hamilton, the settlement was a very good result when weighing it versus the risks of continued litigation since there was an agreement in the service managers’ employment contracts  which purported to waive class action litigation. The  settlement order provided for a substantial and meaningful recovery to the class providing 158 employees a total of $442 per week of work. The FLSA settlement also contained the terms by which an addition of $5000 are to be paid to the representatives of the five classes, which is an incentive award for the lead plaintiffs.

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Prior Overtime Lawsuits Against Ecolab

The lawsuit stemmed from a prior related case of Ross v. Ecolab. In that particular lawsuit the settlement finalized for $35 million in March 2016. The service managers’ lawsuit was filed in August 2016 and it took 3 months to go to mediation while the prior case took around 7 years of litigation. The prior case also raised the allegation of misclassification of workers hired to service dishwashers as exempt form the law of California. That particular case ended with as settlement paying of $544 to 200 class workers per week of their work for the period of almost ten and a half years.

After the result of the case of Ross v. Ecolab, another case was filed by Juan Campos, asking for similar relief for the workers who were not covered in the lawsuit by Ross. The case was filed in the California federal court which resulted in Campos winning the compensations for half of 2016.

The class counsel stated that the workers in Campos’ lawsuit were the same who should have been in the Ross lawsuit.

Juan Campos v. Ecolab Inc. is the case, case number 4:16-cv-04829, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Caifornia.

Has Ecolab Learned its Lesson?

After paying millions of dollars in overtime settlements, one might think Ecolab would have learned to pay proper overtime. But recent reports are that the positions of Territory Representatives and Senior Territory Representatives (employees who were not part of the Campos and Ross lawsuits) indicate that future overtime lawsuits may still be in store for Ecolab. Territory Representatives and Senior Territory Representatives used to be salaried, but were ‘reclassified’ to hourly-paid in early 2014. Since then, reports have arisen that Territory Representatives and Senior Territory Representatives are not allowed to enter all of their work hours into Ecolab’s time-keeping system, and that Ecolab does not factor their bonus pay into their “regular rates of pay” for purposes of calculating their overtime.

The attorneys at JTB Law Group are currently interviewing individuals who worked as Ecolab Territory Representatives and Senior Territory Representatives about possible unpaid overtime pay. If you worked for Ecolab in this capacity or have information that can help, please contact us today!