Workers claim facility refused overtime pay for years

 

Michelle's House, 293 W. Congress St., Caro (4.11.16)CARO — Three former workers of Michelle’s House in Caro have filed a federal lawsuit against the residential care facility, alleging they didn’t receive overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week at the business.

Michelle M. Reamer and Kari M. Bader of Caro and Lori L. Sanders of Sebewaing claim they weren’t paid at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay when working more than 40 hours per week. The trio filed a Feb. 16 lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bay City against Linda Tallman, owner of Michelle’s House, 293 W. Congress St.

The three former workers allege Tallman and Michelle’s House induced them to sign “sham” agreements where the workers agreed to work more than 40 hours per week for “regular” pay.

Sanders claims Tallman and Michelle’s House induced her to sign a paper on May 8, 2012, stating “I Lori Lynne Sanders agree to work any overtime for regular hourly pay rate and understand that because of this agreement will not receive any overtime pay for hours worked over 40 hrs./week.”

Reamer and Bader allege they were induced to sign a paper on Dec. 7, 2010, stating “I will work over 40 hrs. for Regular pay.”

Tallman denies their allegations in court documents. The Advertiser could not reach Tallman for comment Monday.

The trio maintain in their lawsuit that the agreements “were unenforceable shams as the fundamental purpose of the (federal Fair Labor Standards Act) is to place a limitation upon such contracts.”

Tallman denies that allegation.

The three former workers defined Michelle’s House as “an institution primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, or the mentally ill or defective who reside on the premises” of Michelle’s House. Tallman and Michelle’s House “neither admit nor deny” that description of the facility.

The three former workers allege Tallman and Michelle’s House officials misled them about their right to receive 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for their overtime hours.

The three plaintiffs maintain they regularly worked more than 40 hours per workweek, but never were paid at 1.5 times their hourly rate of pay, as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Tallman and Michelle’s House, in court documents, “neither admit nor deny” those allegations.

The three former workers request a jury trial, and stated they worked at Michelle’s House until 2014, providing care to house residents. Reamer states she began working there in 2004, with Bader stating she started in 2005 and Sanders stating she began in 2008.

As an alleged example of underpayment of the three former workers, they allege Michelle’s House failed to pay them for “time spent in training activities and staff meetings and also for compensable ‘field trips’ with the residents of Michelle’s House.”

Tallman and Michelle’s House neither admit nor deny that claim.

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

 

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