Professional Service Agreement

DOL Recovers $163K for FLSA Violations

September 19, 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has separately announced its recovery of a total of $163,542 in back wages and damages for 83 employees working for a tree service company and a painting business, for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Two restaurant operators were also sanctioned for violating FLSA child labor regulations, and the DOL filed suit against the former owner of another restaurant for alleged retaliation against employees. Four of the employers paid a total of $63,045 in civil money penalties.

OT wages denied.Done-Rite Tree Company Inc. has paid $79,422 in back wages and liquidated damages to 39 employees to resolve reported FLSA overtime violations. Investigators determined that the tree services company in Meridian, Idaho, failed to pay the workers time and one-half for hours over 40 in a workweek.

The employer also paid $10,747 in civil money penalties for child-labor infractions. The company allowed two 17-year-old workers to regularly load and operate a power-driven woodchipper, a hazardous occupation for minors under the FLSA.

Pre-shift work not paid.Raymond’s Painting Company Inc., dba Raymond’s Painting Co., paid $84,120 in back wages and liquidated damages to 44 employees for violating FLSA overtime provisions. The painting business in Honolulu, Hawaii, failed to treat pre-shift activities by its employees as on-the-clock work, according to the WHD. The employer also did not properly document and maintain its employment records, which resulted in a record-keeping violation.

In addition to the back wages and liquidated damages, the company paid $10,000 in civil money penalties for willful and reckless disregard of the FLSA.

Child labor outside permitted hours.Applegreen USA Central Services LLC, dba Burger King, paid $17,966 in civil money penalties for violating child labor laws at nine franchise locations in and around Columbia, South Carolina. Investigators determined that the employer allowed 26 minor-aged employees, ages 14 and 15, to work more than three hours on a school day and past 7 p.m. while school was in session.

In addition to paying the civil money penalties, the employer agreed to enforce child labor regulations and adhere to the hours standards for minors; require all managers to complete a compliance acknowledgement after receiving the division’s fact sheet for employing youth in restaurants; include the employment of minors as a new training topic for all newly hired or promoted managers; include an enforcement provision as a new section to the Applegreen employee handbook to address child labor provisions of the FLSA; require all newly hired employees under the age of 16 to sign an acknowledgement form that outlines the hours restrictions under the law; and implement and ensure minor-aged employees are aware of a reporting mechanism for situations when managers ask the employees to violate child labor regulations. In addition, the employer will not allow any form of retaliation or discrimination against anyone who uses the reporting mechanism.

Willful child labor violations.Akshar Ashish LLC,dbaDunkin’,paid$24,332 in civil money penalties for willfully violating FLSA child labor regulations at three Pennsylvania locations. The WHD determined that the franchisee permitted 14- and 15-year-old employees to work more than three hours a day on a school day; work past 7 p.m. on a school night; work more than 18 hours a week during a regular school week; work more than eight hours on a non-school day; and work past 9 p.m. during summer break. The violations involved 39 minors working at Dunkin’ locations in Hershey, Hummelstown, and Palmyra.

In addition to paying the civil money penalty, the employer agreed to conduct child labor training with supervisors and managers; provide relevant child labor publications to minors, parents, and guardians of minors under the age of 16, supervisors, and managers; and establish an internal phone number for employees to report anonymous child labor violations. The employer also agreed to require minors to wear different colored name tags so managers can easily identify minors under 16 years of age, and place signage and stop stickers on hazardous equipment.

Intimidation, retaliation.The DOL alleges that the former owner of Ichiban restaurant in Albany, New York, deprived three workers of their full rights under the FLSA after he allegedly tried to intimidate them and prevent them from participating in a private class action lawsuit. The DOL made the allegations in a recent civil complaint filed in federal court that seeks to enjoin the former restaurant owner from further adverse action against the employees and recover compensatory and punitive damages for the workers.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the former owner violated federal anti-retaliation provisions when he shared personal and other sensitive information about the three workers with a Rensselaer County deputy sheriff who also worked for the former owner’s security business when off duty. The deputy sheriff then contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities with the information, and with details on when and where the workers would be in Albany for a deposition in their class action lawsuit. As a result, ICE arrested and detained one of the workers during the lunchbreak of the deposition, which was conducted by the former owner’s attorney.