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Former security guards at Hyatt allege wage theft by contractor

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A former security guard for the company that provides services to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was the victim of wage theft.

Ramon Silva worked for C.G. Security Services for two years, and says he worked as many as 72 hours per week but was not paid overtime or for many of his extra hours.

Silva alleges that, in October 2011, the company switched him from a hourly rate to a salaried position in order to avoid paying him for the extra hours he was working. “I was by myself all night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and sometimes longer,” Silva said. “Because they were paying me a so-called salary, I was not even making minimum wage.”

Silva has requested the court recognize his lawsuit as a collective action and include other C.G. Security employees who were not paid their full wages. Former C.G. Security worker Eb’n Johnson appeared at the press conference announcing the lawsuit and said he too was not paid for all of the hours he worked.

Charles Guynn, owner of C.G. Security, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit. He declined to respond to Johnson’s allegations, but disputed that Silva was entitled to overtime or minimum wage pay.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires workers to be paid the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and overtime at 1.5 times the workers’ hourly wage. But the law exempts workers holding certain executive and administrative positions. “Ramon was an exemplary employee, but we paid him what we agreed to pay him,” Guynn said. “If he is offered a position as a supervisor and he takes it, then he is not eligible for overtime.”

The lawsuit was announced at a press conference sponsored by the labor union UNITE HERE. The union has been attempting to organize a union at the hotel and has assisted other sub-contracted hotel workers in wage theft litigation, including a suit on behalf of multiple hotel housekeepers that was settled in December, 2012. “I think this is happening because UNITE HERE is upset with us since we have responded to their many demonstrations here,” Guynn said.

But Silva says his motives are more direct. “I worked hard night after night to keep the guests safe,” he said. “The least that C.G. Security Services could do is pay me for all the hours worked.”

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