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United Airlines settles lawsuit over skycap tips

United Airlines has settled a lawsuit alleging that companies it contracted with to provide skycaps at airports around the country paid them less than the minimum wage while not allowing them to keep all of their tips.

A federal judge approved a final settlement of $250,000 on Tuesday. Under the settlement, 135 skycaps will receive an average of about $1,000 each, after attorneys’ fees.

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The amount given to each skycap will be proportionate to damages from October 2006 to August 2008, when Chicago-based United, like other airlines, imposed a $2 fee for each bag checked curbside.

The skycaps were required to give the $2 fee to the airlines or subcontractors for each bag they checked. Their lawyers alleged that because some customers failed to pay the fee the skycaps sometimes had to use their tip money to pay it.

Specifically, the skycaps alleged that United was not entitled to take a tip credit against the federal minimum wage because skycaps were not allowed to keep all of their tips. Skycaps traditionally have been paid less than minimum wage because they make most of their compensation in tips from airline passengers.

The skycaps work at various airports around the country, including at Logan International Airport in Boston.

United Airlines declined to comment on the settlement.

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