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Roaches, and Bed Bugs, and Rats! Oh, My: A California Federal Judge Grants Conditional Class Certification to Professional Exterminators for Overtime Claims

The average New Yorker is no stranger to the fact that bugs and pests run rampant in our boroughs.  According to, Brooklyn has the largest bed bug infestation in all of NYC. However, what is truly disconcerting is actually seeing one of these critters in your own home.  After a moment of disgust or panic, we city-dwellers can rest easy knowing that a professional exterminator can stop the problem in its tracks. While many of us remain eternally grateful for the services we’ve received from professional exterminators, these hard working and underappreciated employees are often at risk of employer misclassification, resulting in lost overtime pay.

Recently, a CA federal court judge granted conditional class certification to approximately 1,000 exterminators who were routinely denied uninterrupted meal breaks and overtime pay by Ecolab, Inc.  The pending case is Cancilla v. Ecolab, Inc. and, according to the plaintiffs’ complaint, class members consist of Service Specialist Trainees and Service Specialists and are responsible for scheduling fumigation appointments and manually completing fumigation and pest removal procedures. According to the complaint, these exterminators consistently worked over 40 hours a week, sometimes more than 10 hours per day, while receiving a fixed salary without overtime pay.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys assert that the employees were eligible for overtime pay because they were not involved in outside sales, were not compensated at a high enough rate, and did not have advanced degrees. Therefore, although these exterminators frequently worked outside the office and are professionally certified to perform fumigations, they do not meet criteria necessary under FLSA outside sales, professional or independent contractor exemptions.

According to the NYC Department of Health, NYC is home to over 1,000 pest control companies and thousands of professional exterminators. If you are employed as a professional exterminator and are being denied overtime pay, you may be misclassified. Contact an attorney with expertise in wage and hour laws who can help you exterminate pesky FLSA violations.

Christopher Davis is an experienced employment litigator specializing in class actions, overtime wage recovery, discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and Wall Street bonus disputes. Before entering private practice, Mr. Davis served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office where he prosecuted violent crimes as a member of the Sex Crimes Unit.