On Monday, Google and two of its contract service providers-Mainelli Mechanical Contractors and Eurest Services-were sued by a former employee for allegedly failing to pay overtime wages. The former employee says that she worked as a facility coordinator at Google's Council Bluffs data center from January 2008 until this February.
The woman's complaint alleges that Google management required her to work between 50 and 60 hour weeks, six days a week during the time of her employment, and that she was not paid overtime wages.
After she was hired, Google delegated responsibility for payroll to Eurest, and later to Mainelli. But the former employee's complaint wasn't clear whether she was an employee of Google or an employee of one of Google's contractor.
The woman says that her position at Google made her a non-exempt employee, which entitled her to overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime pay, whereas exempt employees are not entitled to overpay time. The latter usually have high salaries or management positions.
Misclassification of employees is a common source of wage disputes. And wage disputes are themselves not uncommon. Because federal and state wage laws related to employee classification can be difficult to get a handle on, employees often make mistakes in employee classification.
Sources said that wage disputes are not uncommon in the tech industry, a situation likely brought about by the conflicting goals of hiring the top talent in the industry while keeping costs down.
Source: informationweek.com, "Google Sued Over Unpaid Overtime," Thomas Claburn, 18 May 2011.