PrimeFlight has a troubling history of wage and hour claims and paying large settlements regarding its employees at airports across the country. Since 2005, total settlements, back wages, and penalties for these violations exceed $3.3 million. The company has also been found to be a repeat and willful violator of federal wage and hour law on multiple occasions.
Many of these employee wage and hour disputes have taken place at airports in the New York metro area:
- In October 2016, PrimeFlight employees working at Newark International Airport, including cabin cleaners and drivers, sued PrimeFlight in Essex County Superior Court in New Jersey for wage and hour issues. These issues include, automatically deducting one-half hour from workers’ pay regardless of whether workers had worked during their meal break, automatically clocking out workers regardless of whether workers worked past these automatic clock-outs, and failing to pay workers for overtime. This case was removed to federal court in December 2016 and is still active.
- PrimeFlight is currently being sued as part of a class-action suit originally filed by workers in Suffolk County, NY on behalf of all PrimeFlight workers in the state. The plaintiffs are seeking over $5m illion in back pay due to PrimeFlight’s alleged failure to pay wages and a uniform maintenance fee.
- PrimeFlight recently agreed to a $605,503 settlement in a wage and hour class action lawsuit brought by a former LaGuardia Airport porter on behalf of tipped PrimeFlight employees in New York State. Although the company denied the allegations, the parties submitted the proposed joint settlement to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), which approved it on October 9, 2014. In this case, initially filed October 3, 2011, the former employee alleged that he and other workers were not paid time and a half for overtime, were not informed that the company was applying a tip credit to their wages, were forced to report $60 per week in tips regardless of what they earned, and were not paid a required uniform maintenance payment. The settlement affects over 1,000 current and former PrimeFlight employees at LaGuardia Airport.
- In 2011, a worker at Newark Liberty International Airport filed a complaint over PrimeFlight’s failure to pay him for hours worked. PrimeFlight was subject to an order from the New Jersey DOL to pay over $112 in back wages and incurred a $1,000 penalty.
- In October 2010, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, PrimeFlight agreed to pay back wages of more than $5,700 to 74 LaGuardia Airport employees for failure to properly pay overtime.
- In April 2008, the New Jersey DOL ordered PrimeFlight to pay nearly $200 in back wages to a Newark Liberty International Airport cabin cleaner for failure to pay vacation time.
- In December 2005, a Newark Liberty International Airport cabin cleaner filed a wage and hour complaint after PrimeFlight paid him at a lower rate than his normal rate for his vacation. The cleaner claimed to have asked PrimeFlight several times to correct his check, but the discrepancy was never addressed. The New Jersey DOL ordered PrimeFlight to pay over $670 in back wages and was assessed a $500 penalty.
PrimeFlight has also been the subject of many wage and hour claims by its employees working at other airports:
- In September 2016, PrimeFlight agreed to pay more than $1.8 million to 152 workers in order to settle a back-pay lawsuit alleging that the company ignored the nation’s first $15 minimum wage after it took effect.
- In February 2013, PrimeFlight negotiated a settlement with the Department of Labor to pay $9,844 in back wages to 14 workers at El Paso International Airport in El Paso, TX on claim of failing to pay the minimum wage and overtime. The company also paid $1,980 in civil money penalties for repeat violations of wage and hour statutes.
- In September 2012, following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation, PrimeFlight agreed to pay over $33,000 in back wages to 53 employees working at the Buffalo International Airport for failure to properly pay minimum wages. The company was deemed to be a repeat and willful violator of wage and hour statutes by the Department of Labor.
- In September 2011, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, PrimeFlight agreed to pay over $10,400 in back pay to 43 of its employees working the Rochester Airport whose tips did not bring them up to the minimum wage. PrimeFlight was also assessed over $23,000 in civil penalties for repeat and willful violations of wage and hour statutes, but settled with the Department of Labor to forgive the civil money penalties.
- In September 2011, PrimeFlight negotiated a settlement with the Department of Labor to pay close to 700 workers in Houston, TX more than $60,000 in back wages on claim of failing to pay tipped employees the minimum wage and requiring them to report tips they hadn’t received. The company was originally assessed $86,460 in civil money penalties for repeat violations of Department of Labor Wage and Hour statutes, but eventually this amount was reduced to $0.
- In March 2009, PrimeFlight offered to settle a Department of Labor inspection by paying over $17,000 in back wages to 68 employees at El Paso International Airport (Texas) on claims of the company’s failure to comply with minimum wage and overtime law, including by inflating its employees’ reported tips, thus pushing many of them below the minimum wage. The company was deemed to be a repeat violator of wage and hour statutes by the Department of Labor.
- In February 2009, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, PrimeFlight agreed to pay over $6,360 to 35 Byrd Airport (Richmond, VA) employees for failing to supplement passenger tips that were insufficient to meet minimum wage requirements for wheelchair skycaps and curbside skycaps, requiring employees to report more tips than they received, and paying incorrect overtime premium on several occasions. The company’s violations were deemed repeat violations by the Department of Labor.
- In 2008, PrimeFlight and US Airways were subject to a class action lawsuit brought in federal district court in Massachusetts on behalf of PrimeFlight skycaps providing services to US Airways who alleged that because skycaps were required to make up any negative difference between bag fees due and bag fees collected out of their tips that PrimeFlight could not take a tip credit on the skycaps wages and should have been paying them the full minimum wage. Although PrimeFlight denied the allegations, in 2009 it agreed to a $750,000 settlement that provided back wages and attorneys’ fees to a class of over 400 employees.
- Beginning in January 2008, two PrimeFlight employees in Florida sued for unpaid overtime wages, unpaid minimum wages, and retaliation. One worker was allegedly terminated after speaking out about unpaid wages. PrimeFlight settled with both workers in June 2008 for a total of $13,500 in back wages, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees. The case was closed on June 24, 2008.
- In April 2008, PrimeFlight negotiated a settlement of $2,850 on behalf of 19 employees in Nashville TN in response to a complaint that the company was failing to pay tipped employees the minimum wage and requiring them to report tips they hadn’t received.
- In February 2008, over $2,600 in back wages was awarded to a skycap in Lexington, SC for failure to supplement tips that fell short of the minimum wage.
PrimeFlight even lost a contract this year for not paying its employees according to it contract.
- According to a media report, in February 2015, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, terminated its contract with PrimeFlight to provide security services at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The newspaper reported that PrimeFlight made an error in its bid documents and were paying its employees at a lower amount than what the contract stated. As a result, the company was in default for not paying their employees the state contracted rate which was believed to be at $16 per hour.