Innkeepers, apartment, and motel managers who live on the property they manage frequently are paid below the minimum wage and denied overtime pay. Motel owners frequently employ individuals or couples to manage small motels and provide a “free” room. Often times, however, the free lodging is not provided for the convenience of the employee, but rather for the benefit of the owner. Motel managers and innkeepers frequently work seven days per week, from early morning until late at night. They also may be required to handle motel guest issues throughout the night. A motel owner, however, cannot escape the overtime and minimum wage laws just because lodging is provided.
For a motel owner to obtain a wage credit for providing a room the employee, (1) the employer must regularly provide the lodging or it must be regularly provided by similar employers; (2) the employee must accept the lodging voluntarily; (3) the lodging must be furnished in compliance with the law; (4) the employer must provide the lodging primarily for the benefit of the employee; and, (5) the employer must keep accurate records of the cost of providing the lodging.
Motel employers often fail to meet all the requirements for taking a wage credit for lodging provided to resident hotel managers, maintenance workers, and other employees who live on the motel property. For example, motel owners often charge motel resident managers the retail value of the room rather than the reasonable cost of the room. The reasonable cost can be no more than the actual cost of the lodging provided. Motel owners also often fail to keep accurate records of the cost of providing the lodging to the employee. Moreover, if the employee is asked to live on the property so that the motel can have someone on call 24/7, then the lodging may not be for the primary benefit of the employee, and the employer may not be entitled to take a wage credit.
Don’t get overworked and underpaid. If you are working at a motel, apartment, or inn and being denied minimum wages or overtime, or your employer takes a deduction for the value of your room, lodging or board provided, call Bober & Bober, P.A. today at (800) 995-9243 for a free consultation.