By: Jenna Thomas
When the campus shut down a year ago, many student workers were laid off. Slowly after, orientation leaders, library staff, resident assistants and other student employees were brought back into their roles. In August of 2020, community desk assistants (CDAs), whose roles include checking-in guests, watching security cameras and answering questions in campus residence halls, were re-hired to work the desks.
In addition to the new stressors that come with working face-to-face with people during a global pandemic, CDAs were paid below the minimum wage, did not receive holiday pay, and were asked to work overtime.
Throughout the entire year, CDAs were paid $8.55 an hour ― 15 cents below Ohio’s minimum wage. American Campus Communities (ACC), the company that runs some of the university’s on-campus housing, failed to increase the wage at the start of the new year as stated by Ohio law.
At the end of the year, the CDAs caught on and brought the wage violation to American Campus Communities’ attention. One CDA, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with “The Cauldron” about the frustration they felt when they discovered the discrepancy.
“We have international students and students working their first-ever job and they don’t know that they’re being underpaid. Other people let it go, but I just couldn’t. You can’t treat your employees like that.”
It took multiple emails from several CDA staff members to both Residence Life leadership and payroll at ACC to successfully remedy the situation. Still, CDAs were not paid back for their lost wages until a month later, and one CDA says that they still have not seen the paystub or direct deposit for the back-pay.
In addition to the minimum wage violations, American Campus Communities was also violating Cleveland State policies. Due to staffing shortages, several CDAs have been working well over the 20-hour-a-week cap and some have worked over 40 hours a week. These increased hours did not come with a pay raise.
Residence Life also used time-and-a-half pay as an incentive for CDAs and RAs to work holidays. Although it is not state law that employers must pay additional wages for working holidays, many employers choose to do so. One RA who also wished to remain anonymous told us about their experience working holidays.
“We were told via a message from our supervisor that we would get time-and-a-half holiday pay for working Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. I worked on Thanksgiving, and my hours worked on my paystub are labeled as “holiday” but the pay rate did not change. Our supervisors were made aware of this by multiple employees, but they have yet to do anything about it.”
“The Cauldron” requested comment from Residence Life, but have yet to receive a response.