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Penalties Imposed on 5 Employers for Federal Labor Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently issued news releases announcing judgments against five companies investigated for various violations of laws and regulations.

Here are the details.

Case Number 1: Child Labor Laws

A grocery store employed several minors in violation of federal child labor laws by allowing them to operate trash compactors and bottle recycling machines.

Following a WHD investigation, the store paid civil money penalties of $10,000 after investigators found the employer allowed workers between 15 and 17 years of age to operate or tend to the machinery. They also determined the employer scheduled 15-year-olds to work after 7 p.m., more than three hours on a school day and allowed them to work more than 18 hours in a workweek, all violations of child labor laws. In addition, the grocer failed to maintain complete records of employee birth dates.

Case Number 2: Overtime Wage and Record-keeping Violations

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all covered employers to pay non-exempt employees at a rate equal to or above the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour.

Additionally, the same law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at one-and-one-half times the employee's standard hourly rate of pay for any time worked over 40 hours in a given workweek.

A health care provider has been required to pay 61 of its direct care support employees $92,275 in back wages for failure to pay overtime in accordance with the FLSA guidelines. Additionally, the company has been penalized for violating record-keeping requirements, as its records claiming to support compliance with overtime rules directly contradicted the findings of the investigation conducted by the WHD.

Case Number 3: Overtime, Minimum Wage and Poster Violations

A residential care facility has been cited $27,872 in civil penalties and required to pay $135,092 in back wages pursuant to a WHD investigation that uncovered widespread overtime and minimum wage violations against 56 employees. The company, in paying caregivers flat fees per day, instead of compensating them for hours worked, routinely neglected its obligations to meet minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA.

Additionally, the business refused to pay staff for time spent attending mandatory work training and for interrupted sleep during breaks in their work shifts. Finally, the company failed to display mandatory labor posters required under the FLSA.

Case Number 4: Overtime and Payroll Record Violations

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor has paid $20,547 in back wages to 18 employees after a federal investigation found the employer failed to pay workers overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.

WHD investigators determined the company violated the FLSA's overtime requirements. The employer failed to record and pay employees for all of the hours they worked, resulting in overtime violations in workweeks of more than 40 hours. The company also paid two workers flat weekly salaries regardless of the number of hours they actually worked. By doing so, the employer failed to pay overtime as the law requires when the employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek.

The employer also failed to maintain payroll records as required by law.

Case Number 5: Prevailing Wage Violations

The Davis-Bacon Act requires all companies with government contracts in excess of $2,000 with either the United States or the District of Columbia to pay workers the same rate or higher than the "prevailing wage" rates prescribed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor for each specific job classification. These rates are defined as the wage paid to the majority of laborers in the classification on similar projects in the area.

The WHD is requiring a federal contractor to pay 69 employees $293,051 in back wages and fringe benefits after concluding an investigation into the company's failure to pay required overtime to workers in the air traffic control tower on an Air Force base. The company also paid wages below the prevailing rates required for construction work under a U.S. Department of Defense contract.

Stay in Compliance

If you have questions about staying in compliance with wage and employment laws, consult with your payroll advisor or employment attorney.


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