DOL Recovers $834K in Unpaid Wages from FLSA Minimum Wage, OT Violations
April 29, 2021
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced the settlement of reported FLSA minimum wage and overtime violations by employers in California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, recovering $834,114 in monetary relief for 510 workers. Employers were also assessed $209,575 in civil penalties for the willful nature of violations.
Unpaid working time, flat salaries, straight-time OT rates.Saddleback Roofing Inc. has paid$616,651 in back wages for 341 workers to resolve overtime violations. The WHD also assessed the Orange County, California, roofing company $141,515 in civil penalties due to the willful nature of the violations, which resulted from a variety of pay practices, including the employer’s failure to count travel time between job sites and time spent loading and unloading materials as work time. When this unpaid time occurred in workweeks longer than 40 hours, it triggered overtime violations. The employer also paid some workers flat salaries, no matter the number of hours they worked, thus failing to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Additional violations resulted from the employer’s practice of paying for overtime hours at straight-time rates, in separate payroll checks, or in unrecorded cash.
Unpaid pre-shift meetings.The WHD has recovered$116,308 in back wages for 82 workers at a Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after investigators found minimum wage and overtime violations. The WHD also assessed a $68,060 civil money penalty for the willfulness of the violations. By failing to pay workers for time they spent attending pre-shift meetings, the restaurant failed to pay the federal minimum wage. Maggiano’s required dining room servers to attend 15- to 30-minute meetings before the start of their scheduled shifts. When employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, this unpaid time triggered overtime violations.
Failed to pay OT or comp time.The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department in Sneedville, Tennessee, has paid $47,252 in back wages for 65 workers to whom it did not pay required overtime or comp time when they worked more than 40 hours per workweek. Although the FLSA permits law enforcement employers to pay overtime or provide compensatory time to their employees based on work periods other than the standard 40-hour workweek, the sheriff’s department chose not to claim that exemption. Violations occurred when payroll processing errors resulted in the employer’s failure to track when workers exceeded 40 hours in a workweek.
Hours at multiple locations not combined, tips retained.The WHD has recovered $53,903 in back wages for 22 workers at Seattle-area restaurant Rio Bravo. Investigators found that the owner violated overtime requirements and the rules for paying tipped workers. When employees worked at more than one location during a workweek, the employer failed to combine those hours when determining whether overtime was due. This resulted in violations when employees worked more than 40 hours total, but Rio Bravo paid for hours at each location separately, at straight-time rates. The employer also retained a portion of workers’ tips, which the FLSA prohibits.