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Bruce Meizlish: TruGreen Workers Complain About Chinese Overtime Pay

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Cinncinnati, OHSome employers in the US, using a slippery section of the Fair Labor Code, have been playing their employees for suckers, according to attorney Bruce Meizlish. A seasoned lawyer, with some 30 years experience representing people in disputes with employers, Meizlish was amazed by what a group of workers from the TruGreen lawn care company told him about the company's pay schedule.

"We're working all these hours," Meizlish says his clients told him, "and we're just not making any money!"

After listening to how their employer applied a widely used section of the labor code to lawn care workers, Meizlish decided he definitely had a class action suit on his hands and filed a complaint against TruGreen on behalf of three lawn care technicians from Ohio.

The TruGreen employees signed on to work for the company on a 'Fluctuating Workweek' payment schedule. Simply put, employees found that their deal with TruGreen meant that overtime would be paid at half the rate of their regular pay. It means that the more they work, the lower their hourly wage.

The only reason employees go along with the deal is that they are guaranteed a minimum weekly wage regardless of how many hours they work.

According to Meizlish, TruGreen has been trying to have their cake and eat it too. In weeks where the work demands fell below 40 hours, the company opted out of the 'fluctuating workweek' method of payment.

"Basically what they are doing is trying to have it both ways," says Meizlich. "They are trying to take advantage of the system that allows them to pay smaller overtime, but they are not adhering to the other side of the equation, which is paying the guaranteed minimum salary."

Although politically incorrect, employees caught in a 'Fluctuating Workweek' jam commonly refer to it as 'Chinese Overtime'. There are dozens of blogs and discussion forums on the Internet where people who have worked under an employers' so-called 'Chinese Overtime' plan have taken to cursing and complaining about the frustrations of working longer for less.

According to the suit filed by Meizlish, TruGreen saves millions of dollars by hoodwinking its workers with the 'Fluctuating Workweek' method and routinely leads employees to believe they are not entitled to full pay if they work less than 40 hours a week.

Meizlish says there are many employers across the US that use the 'Fluctuating Workweek' method of payment. "I would say it is quite widespread," he says.

Employees at the giant retailer, Lowe's, recently fought a court battle against 'Fluctuated Workweek' method of payment and won.

As many as 250 workers may be eligible to join the class action against TruGreen in Ohio.

Bruce Meizlish is a former trial lawyer with the National Labor Department. He graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1977 and earned a B.A. from Ohio State in 1977. He is member of the Ohio Employment Lawyers Association and Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor. He is a partner in the law firm Meizlish and Grayson in Cincinnati, Ohio.

READ ABOUT Overtime LAWSUITS

READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I haven't received any kind of information on what's going on on this matter .evrone I worked with has got ting there checks .but me I'm trying to find out what's going on with my check.

Posted by

on
I haven't received any kind of information on what's going on on this matter .evrone I worked with has got ting there checks .but me I'm trying to find out what's going on with my check.

Posted by

on
Hell yea what the heck Happend I was told by this lawer I was about 3 weeks to late to file my claim I worked my ass off for this company and just walked the f out one day couldn't take it anymore after 7 years they combined all of Long Island and queens to wok out of one branch try that talk about driving and working 70 hrs a week to have your pay fd up I want my money g dammit

Posted by

on
How can I get into this class action suit. I've been working at Trugreen since 2006 and would like to get my back pay for all the overtime I had worked and only getting Chinese pay.

Posted by

on
employed 2/11 thru 10/13 st louis mo store #879 chinese overtime 5_7 dollars per hours woked . would love to get paid properly for work rendered . will tell all about their practices

Posted by

on
Scott's lawn service does the same thing. Have done my husband that way for almost 10 yrs. I told him it was wrong but they convinced him it was not.

Posted by

on
i worked their approx from march 2007 until april 2011(approx) i always questioned this practice but said that is how they compensated us with the commission structure and made it sound as this was a common practice. they would change the structure depending on the time of year
during the heart of the season march until june (roughly) worked 6 days a week and when the season changed we would only get paid 40 hrs, if we worked it, but if we did not paid less.

Posted by

on
Scott's lawnService is the same way. It's slave labor. They need to get in trouble.

Posted by

on
It`s been the same way for 40 years!

Posted by

on
Don't forget that Scott's Lawn service does the same thing, most of the managment are all old chemlawn people. I beg the lawyers to look into Scott's lawsuit, I know all Tech's would sign on in a heartbeat. The Scott's Miracle Gro company makes billions in profits and is allowing this to go on at SLS. The chinese overtime system is something out of the third world and is going on in America this day and age, it is sick and nobody believes me when I telll them this is how they pay the workers... sad.

Posted by

on
I WORK AT TRUGREEN IN FLORIDA IT IS A SLAVE CAMP. WE CALL IT "ANGOLA". IF TRUGREEN WAS A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WOULD INVADE IT BECAUSE OF THE WAY TRUGREEN TREATS ITS PLEOPE!! NOW THEY ARE NOT PAYING THE COMMISIONS WE ARE SUPPOSE TO GET FOR US MAKING A SALE.TRUGREEN ARE CROOKS!! SIGN ME UP FOR THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUITE........... SICK AND TIRE OF IT AFTER THREE YEARS.

Posted by

on
Ditto in Lafayette, IN. Although I have more stories as to how they would manipulate worker salaries that I feel were illegal! Email me!!!

Posted by

on
That was the same crap we had to deal with in Michigan as well & on top of that we have a manager that sits his fat ass in the office in a t-shirt & shorts. Now they give a set hourly rate but mine was less then what they said it was the year before & one of the guys that only has one season under his belt & that I had to train, has an hourly rate more than mine. I've just had enough of being under their thumb and took a job making more money but no benefits. It's much less stress and fewer hours. I am sooo much happier now. I also heard from my former customers, that they are telling them I still work there taking care of new customers & that I asked they new guy to take care of my old customers. Honor God in all they do? NOTHING could be further from the truth!!

Posted by

on
We are experiencing the same hourly "discrimination" in NH. I still do not understand how this corporation can apply the fluctuating work week pay schedule to blue collar workers working 60 plus hours per week, including Saturdays, all season long. This formula was supposed to apply to whhite collar office staff when their hours fluctuated, but has mutated into this rip-off free-for-all...We need help in New Hampshire to get reparations from years of this abuse and corruption...

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