DOL Restores $708K to 287 Employees After Discovering FLSA Violations
June 22, 2022
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has separately announced awards totaling combined recovery amounts of $708,761 in back pay and liquidated damages returned to 287 workers after investigators alleged that their employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan. The recovery included violations for automatic break deductions, bonuses and overtime rates, withholding for uniform deposit, and not paying overtime to companion workers.
Federally-funded project.WDR Technology Corp., an electrical and engineer contractor in Miami, paid $37,311 in back wages to eight workers after investigators alleged the employer violated the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and FLSA. WHD investigators claimed that the employer shortchanged the workers by denying them a portion of their wages and benefits while they worked on a federally funded project at the Everglades National Park Flamingo Visitor Center. Lunacon Engineering Group Corp. subcontracted WDR Technology Corp. to perform electrical work on the project. According to the WHD, WDR Technology Corp. paid most of their employees as ironworkers, a practice that denied them a higher rate of pay per hour as well as health and welfare benefits required for electrical work in violation of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, which governs pay practices or assisted contracts. The company’s certified payrolls also showed wages issued on a weekly basis when the employer actually paid employees on a biweekly basis in violation of the DBRA. The employer also failed to maintain a record of the regular hourly rate of pay for any workweek in violation of the FLSA.
Automatic break deductions.An Arizona construction employer, VW Connect, is on the hook for $384,380 in back wages and liquidated damages for 144 underpaid workers and $47,926 in civil penalties after it violated the FLSA overtime requirements, investigators said. The WHD investigation disclosed that VW Dig LLC, dba VW Connect, automatically deducted 30-minute meal break periods every day when employees worked through the periods, a violation of the FLSA. The employer also failed to pay all hours worked due to improper recordkeeping that resulted in work hours often missing from payroll. The investigation found that the employer owed workers $174,190 in back wages for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at the overtime rate and an equal amount in liquidated damages. The department also assessed VW Connect with civil penalties due to the willful nature of its violation for manipulating employee timekeeping records.
Bonuses and overtime rates.In Alabama, Alabaster Operating Group LLC, dba Ahava Healthcare of Alabaster, denied workers overtime wages in violation of the FLSA, prompting WHD investigators to recover $31,757 for 93 workers at two senior residential facilities. According to investigators, the employer paid bonuses to some workers, reported them as wages, and did not include the bonuses in the workers’ rate of pay when calculating overtime pay. By doing so, the employer miscalculated the required overtime rate and failed to pay the full amount to employees for hours over 40 in a workweek. Investigators also found McClellan Senior Living incorrectly assumed an activities director, who was paid on a salary basis, was not entitled to overtime pay. As a result, the employer failed to pay overtime due when the employee worked over 40 hours in a workweek in violation of the FLSA. The employer had also asked the director to alter pay record hours to substitute hours worked for early dismissal, which is a recordkeeping violation under the Act.
Withholding for uniform deposit.Georgia tire retailer and auto shop, Cherokee Tire Service LLC, owes $161,983 in back wages and liquidated damages to 19 workers for its violations of the FLSA following a WHD investigation. Investigators found that Cherokee Tire Service kept some workers’ first weekly paychecks as a uniform deposit and failed to pay some non-exempt salaried workers time-and-one-half of their regular rate for overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The employer also did not add certain bonuses into workers’ hourly rates as required when calculating overtime rates, resulting in rates lower than the law requires. The division also found that the employer failed to keep accurate records of hours worked and overtime premiums paid.
Companion workers.A federal judge found Independent Home Care of Michigan LLC and its owners liable to pay 23 home healthcare workers a total of $93,330—representing $46,665 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages—after the company failed to pay companion workers overtime wages. Judge Victoria A. Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, Southern Division of Michigan issued the findings, in case No. 2:20-cv-10170-VAR-EAS, following a two-day bench trial on May 9 and 10. The employer had challenged DOL findings after the WHD investigation found the company in violation of the Home Health Care Final Rule of 2013, which requires staffing agencies to pay overtime to companion services workers when they work in excess of 40 hours in a work-week. The rule went into effect on January 1, 2015. Investigators found the employer failed to pay overtime wages from January 23, 2018 through June 1, 2019, and also failed to keep accurate records of hours worked and rates of pay for work performed in violation of the FLSA.