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Judge 'Cleans House' Against Skokie Maid Service

A judge issued a default against Skokie Maid and Cleaning Services after failing to answer a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor seeking a total of $501,893 in back wages and liquidated damages for 75 workers.


The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has issued a default judgment against Skokie Maid and Cleaning Services Ltd. in Skokie, and its owner, Jadwiga Malewicka, for failing to answer a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor seeking a total of $501,893.44 in back wages and liquidated damages for 75 workers. The lawsuit, 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, the Illinois Department of Labor said on Thursday.

“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,” said Karen Chaikin, acting regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest. “The Labor Department is committed to seeing that these workers are compensated in accordance with the law.”

The suit alleged that the company, which operates as Skokie Maid, and Malewicka 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 defendants failed to keep proper payroll records, the Illinois Department of Labor said in a press release.

The judgment requires the defendants 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. It also enjoins the company from future violations of the FLSA’s record-keeping requirements.

The case was litigated by the department’s regional solicitor in Chicago. Due to the willful nature of the minimum wage and overtime violations, the Wage and Hour Division has assessed civil money penalties of $70,125.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations, the Labor Department said.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week, according to the Labor Department.

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Benjamin Goldman May 03, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I hope people will vote with their feet and their dollars. As a fellow small business owner I realize the importance of integrity and following the law. Hopefully this will serve as cautionary tale for others.
John May 04, 2012 at 03:25 AM
the maid service business did nothing wrong, the labor dept. is going after a company that has been operating since the late 80's, suddenly what the company does is wrong, why didn't they say anything 10, 15, 20 years ago
Ruth H May 04, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Hi John, allow me to clarify. I once hired Skokie Maid about 3 years ago. They clogged my bathtub sink and I remember calling Jadwiga, the owner of the business, to complain. In the end, I had to pay for my own repairs. I just chose not to use this maid service again. Another thing I remember was all the maid seemed like they just came to America. They were all Polish and very nice woman. After reading this article, I've come to the conclusion that Jadwiga exploited these people by working them long hours and paying them crap. And apparently she's been doing this for years - $500k! are you kidding me? the penalty isn't harsh enough for this woman. She needs to serve jail time and pay her workers what they are owed! Not take advantage of them! MY GOD! Just because they've been doing this for 20 years it's ok? That's your argument. NO! That makes it far far worse.
ted adams May 04, 2012 at 03:07 PM
This lady, Ms. Jadwiga Malewicka is a scum bag and ought to go to jail. Based on the information in this story, she no doubt took advantage of immigrants' labor and used every intimidation tactic she could think of to scare her employees into submission. This woman is a bully and a liar. Good for them in standing up to her! I hope the IRS gets wind of this and finds that she has failed to file truthful and legal tax returns.
John June 01, 2012 at 03:46 AM
These maids get paid above minimum wage and have always been, otherwise they would have quit, and the service provides them with the transportation to get to the job site, thus technically they get paid even more. The clients decide how long the hours to clean their homes and what to clean and if they don't like how the maid cleans they can ask for someone else the next time. No one asks for the maids to work extra hours, it is their choice, as they are INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. The maid service takes in a fee for each project, to cover her fees. There is a reason why this maid service has been around for over 20 years and has grown as big as it had, "overall" reputation of doing good work. I know of costumers of using this maid service for over 15 years, every single week, with the same maid cleaning the property. The maid service is an employment agency for finding clients a maid or maids to clean their house, usually on a recurring schedule. It is the clients that tells how long the maid will work and what to clean, not the owner of the service. Oh, overtime pay, are you kidding me, its the maid that decides to clean a particualr home or office, nothing is stopping her from saying now, they are contractors, they bring their own expertise to the job site. What you think the people who cut grass get overtime, or they are employees. Guess again. This is the government once against being assholes.
John June 01, 2012 at 03:47 AM
$500k are you kidding me, you think that is too low, how much do you think the owner of the maid service makes. TO: Ruth H, how much did she charge for the hours the maid was there, I bet a lot cheaper than most services. Not all information in a story is true. It wouldn't be the first time that the government lied to get their way. The maid service's tax returns are perfectly truthful. You shouldn't believe everything you read. Find me a maid service where the maids are actual employees and not independent contractors. If you call them up make sure to provide you with visual proof. No maid service charging such low fees will be able to survive. I don't think the owner of the maid service wants to earn less than the actual maid. If you read the first paragraph, it clearly states the judge issued the judgment because the owner failed to answer a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The owner never actually responded to the Dept. of Labor claims, basically the truth is still unknown, yet this article clearly states the Dept. of Labor is right on their stance.

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