“Nice guy” manager gets burnt by litigious employees

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Times were tough at Citywide Security Services, and staff members were begging for extra hours. Company president George Lewandowski was clear: he had already given them all the hours he could without paying them overtime.

"I told them that I really can't afford to pay all those extra hours, but a lot of them kept begging for hours, just begging for hours,” he told Cleveland.com. "I said: 'I can't pay the overtime. I'll let you work at straight time. They were aware that I could not pay the overtime -- no matter what!"

And that’s when the eager employees came up with a bona fide solution: give us the extra hours, they begged, and we’ll work them at standard rates. Fine, said Lewandowski.

Not fine, said the Department of Labor.

Lewandowski’s company will pay nearly $20,000 in fines and back pay following a DOL investigation. Specifically, the DOL had a problem with the way employees were given separate straight-time checks for overtime work. "I was just being nice," Lewandowski said. "Look where being nice got me in the long run."

Moral of the story? Train managers not to be the “nice guy”.

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