Professional Service Agreement

Employers Pay $667K for FLSA Violations

August 24, 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has separately announced its recovery of a total of $667,909 in back wages and damages for 1,510 employees working for various heating and air conditioning contractors, a chain of chicken wing restaurants, a home healthcare provider, a farm, and a group of commonly owned construction firms, for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The violations related to bonuses and commissions being excluded from rates of pay, awarding compensatory time instead of overtime, hourly rate falling below minimum wage after deductions were made, paying straight time when overtime was due, and misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

Bonuses, commissions excluded from rates of pay.Eleven central Florida heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractors have paid a total of $113,539 in back wages and liquidated damages to 169 workers to resolve FLSA overtime violations. Investigators identified a wide range of illegal pay practices that undercut the employees’ wages, such as failing to include bonuses and commissions in workers’ rates of pay when calculating overtime, which resulted in paying overtime at rates lower than those permitted by law for hours over 40 in a workweek.

Other contractors failed to combine hours of work when employees performed different jobs for the same employer or awarded compensatory time off on an hour-for-hour basis for hours over 40 in a workweek, even though the law requires these workers be paid a time-and-one-half rate. In addition, all the employers were cited for failing to keep accurate payroll records.

Hourly rates fell below minimum wage after deductions.Boss Wings Enterprises LLC has paid $51,674 in back wages and liquidated damages to 244 workers for FLSA minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping infractions. The employer, which operates five Wing Stop franchise locations in Mississippi, violated minimum wage provisions when paycheck deductions for uniforms and cash register shortages caused some employees’ average hourly rates to fall below the $7.25 federal minimum wage, according to the WHD. The federal agency also found overtime violations when the employer’s deductions for safety training and background checks illegally decreased the rate of pay in weeks when workers earned overtime and led Boss Wings to pay overtime at rates lower than federal law requires. The company further failed to maintain a record of employee hours worked and wage deductions, which resulted in recordkeeping violations.

In addition, investigators found that the company allowed a 15-year-old employee to work past 10 p.m. several times in June 2021. The child labor violation led the company to pay $62,753 in civil money penalties.

Straight time, child labor infractions. TruCare Connections has paid$228,379 in back wages to 260 employees for violating FLSA overtime rules. The Rochester, New York-based home healthcare agency misapplied state law by paying the affected employees straight time for all hours up to 44 hours in a workweek. Although the employer paid employees overtime for hours worked over 44 hours, the FLSA requires that overtime be paid after 40 hours. The back pay consists of the wages due the employees for the hours between 40 and 44 they worked per week.

TruCare also paid $3,640 in civil money penalties for violating FLSA child labor provisions. The company employed two 15-year-old workers as personal care aides, but the work entailed duties not listed as permitted occupations for 15-year-olds. The minors also routinely worked more than 18 hours per week during school weeks in violation of the law.

Bad checks, independent contractor misclassification. The owner of three Louisiana construction businesses has paid $229,665 in back wages to 809 employees for violating FLSA minimum wage and overtime rules, according to the WHD. Investigators found that the companies missed payroll by distributing bad checks to 10 employees; misclassified 146 construction workers as independent contractors and paid them straight time for overtime hours worked; and systemically denied overtime wages to another 653 construction workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors when, in fact, as employees they were owed the overtime premium for hours over 40 in a workweek.