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Chicago Airport Shuttle Workers Win $1.4 Million Back-Wages Ruling from Government

January 17, 2011
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A Texas-based transportation company has been ordered by the federal government to help pay nearly $1.4 million in back wages and benefits it owes some Chicago-area employees.

Total Enterprise Inc. of Irving, Texas, was found to have been underpaying 140 employees who worked out of its Franklin Park, Illinois, facility for a three-year period that ended in 2009.

Total Enterprise had been hired to shuttle Transportation Security Administration employees between O’Hare International Airport and remote parking lots.

A Total Enterprise representative was not available for comment.

The settlement, to be paid by the TSA and Total Enterprise, represents “wages that [employees] should have been receiving all along,” a Labor Department spokesman said.

It’s not clear what portion of the award Total Enterprise will pay.

The 140 workers—shuttle bus drivers, parking lot attendants and bus dispatchers — will see payouts ranging from $30,000 to $90,000 for money owed to them from Dec. 31, 2005, through Nov. 7, 2009, the spokesman said.

The TSA said in a written statement that it has been “working closely” with the Labor Department to ensure that Total Enterprise employees are paid accordingly. “TSA appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the [Labor Department] in this enforcement action,” the agency said in the statement.

The nearly $1.4-million settlement requires final approval by an administrative law judge.

Wage violations, particularly among low-wage earners, are not uncommon in Cook County, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago study. In the past decade, lawsuits filed in Chicago’s federal court that allege some violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act have jumped 134 percent.  

Filed by Lorene Yue of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

 

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