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Ohio: Cleveland Settles Charges of Improperly Rounding Workers’ Start and Stop Times

By Susan R. Heylman  7/7/2014
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The city of Cleveland has agreed to pay $2.2 million to more than 3,700 former and current city workers who alleged that the city’s policy of rounding their start and stop times deprived them of wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act.

The named plaintiff in the action, Cheryl Armbruster, filed a class action in November 2013 on behalf of anyone who worked for the city as an hourly, nonexempt employee subject to the city’s rounding policy. The complaint alleged that, instead of rounding hours to the nearest time increment, as required by the two wage laws, the city always rounded hours in its favor. According to the complaint, if workers clocked in late or clocked out early, their starting and stopping times were rounded against them to the nearest six-minute increment. But, if employees clocked in early or clocked out within a 12-minute window, their starting or stopping times also were rounded against them to their scheduled shift.

The city had maintained substantially the same rounding policy—the Time and Attendance/Kronos Guidelines policy—since 1991. On March 3, 2014, however, the city modified its timekeeping practices and eliminated the rounding policy. The city noted that, from that date, all hourly employees would be paid according to their actual time clocked without any rounding.

The parties reached an agreement on May 21, and filed the signed settlement agreement with the Cleveland federal district court on June 3, 2014. The agreement provided that the settlement class encompassed approximately 3,746 current and former employees who were paid according to the city’s rounding policy and were denied overtime pay due to the policy from Jan. 1, 2011. The individual payments for each eligible employee will be calculated proportionally on each individual’s overtime damages resulting from the city’s rounding policy based on a calculation period from Jan. 1, 2011 to March 3, 2014, the date when the city stopped using the rounding policy.  

Armbruster v. City of Cleveland, N.D. Ohio, No. 1:13-cv-2626 (June 3, 2014).

Susan R. Heylman, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C., area.
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