Posts Tagged ‘wage and hour violations’

DOL: Chinese Companies Bilked Contractors $13.9M in Unpaid Wages for Saipan Hotel Work

According to the Labor Department, these Chinese-based construction contractors screwed over their workforce on minimum wage and overtime pay.

The U.S. Department of Labor has finalized a series of settlements with contractors on Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands that will pay a collective $13.9 million in back wages and damages to thousands of employees who came from China to build the Saipan Casino and Hotel on the island.

Investigators with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that the foreign-based construction contractors paid their workforce less than the minimum wage and overtime pay required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Four China-based construction contractors – MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., Beilida New Materials System Engineering Co. Ltd., Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, and Sino Great Wall International Engineering Co. LLC – have entered into formal agreements to pay $13,972,425 in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 2,400 employees.

MCC, Beilida and Gold Mantis also employed workers brought to Saipan as “tourists” from China under a tourist visa waiver program offered by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These Chinese “tourists” worked at the casino job site without proper work visas. In addition to being paid in violation of the minimum wage and overtime requirements, these workers also incurred debt of $6,000 or more when they were required to pay their own airfare and recruitment fees prior to their employment on Saipan.

“These settlements ensure that thousands of workers will receive the wages they legally earned, while simultaneously sending a strong, clear message to other employers,” said Wage and Hour Acting Administrator Bryan Jarrett. “Employers who evade the law in an attempt to reduce expenses must not gain a competitive advantage over those who play by the rules.  Regardless of where work is performed in the U.S. or its territories, we will continue to enforce the law and level the playing field.”

“As the Department of Labor works to prevent visa fraud and abuse, this case represents an example of the Department’s strong commitment to protecting the American workforce by enforcing the law,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Imperial Pacific International contracted with various China-based companies for the construction of its Saipan Casino and Hotel project. These settlements resolve a portion of the Wage and Hour Division’s wide-ranging investigation into the ongoing casino and hotel project.

The Department’s Office of the Solicitor negotiated the settlements.

Queens for A Day: U.S. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division Opens Office in This Outermost Borough

Queens: Home to President Trump, the Mets, the 1964 Worlds Fair, the U.S. Open tennis tournament. And now the Department of Labor.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has opened an area office in Queens to connect employers, community and trade organizations, employees, and other stakeholders with resources and assistance to ensure compliance with federal labor laws. The new office is located at 68-60 Austin St., Room 601, Forest Hills, New York, 11375.

“This office will serve as a one-stop resource for compliance assistance and information,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director David An, in New York City. “The Queens area office will benefit all the members of the labor and business communities of the second most populous county in New York State and one of the world’s most ethnically diverse urban areas by putting them much closer to available resources.”

Members of the Queens’ office staff are fluent in Spanish and Chinese, and have access to a translation service for other languages. In addition, the Division provides information and publications in numerous languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Haitian Creole, Russian, Hmong, Tagalog, Polish, Portuguese, Nepali, Urdu, Hindi, Samoan, Nepali, Arabic, and Punjabi.

To receive wage and hour-related information, file a complaint, or ask questions about federal wage laws, individuals and businesses should contact the Wage and Hour Division. Services are confidential and are provided at no charge. The Division administers a number of federal labor laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, which contains minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, child labor, and anti-retaliation provisions; the Family and Medical Leave Act; the Davis-Bacon Act; the Service Contract Act; the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act; and various provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that extend protections to different types of nonimmigrant workers.

For more information, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243) or its New York City District Office at, (212) 264-8185, Brooklyn Area Office at (718) 254-9410, or Queens Area Office at (718) 834-2090, depending on location of employment. Information also is available at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

Six Figure FLSA Award Against Building Co.

A building company in Idaho is paying the price of not paying its workers overtime pay and taking money from their paycheck to pay for the cost of work tools, according to an announcement today from the U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found that Boise, Idaho-based Forge Building Company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions. The company – a provider of customized manufactured galvanized steel structures and storage facilities – failed to pay workers overtime at time-and-one-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week. In addition, the employer made illegal deductions from workers’ paychecks to recoup the cost of tools it required them to purchase. These deductions had the effect of lowering the workers’ pay below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

In an agreement with the department, Forge will pay minimum wages to eight employees and overtime premium to 97 employees, with total back wages calculated at $358,601. The company also agreed to pay an equal sum of $358,601 in damages, totaling $717,202 for the workers.

Our investigation has discovered violations resulting in wages that these workers had rightfully earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Silva. “This case allows us to level the playing field for all of the employers who play by the rules. We are dedicated to protect both workers and employers.”

Information: For more information about federal wage laws administered by division, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

Sewing Company in Massachusetts to Pay $890K to Settle Wage Claims Filed Against it by US DOL

It’s going to take government action to stand up for the common man or woman. So thank goodness for the U.S. Department of Labor, which just brought an action to make sure that employees at a Massachusetts sewing company got their fair wages.

The DOL announced on March 10 that it had reached an agreement with UnWrapped, Inc.,  allowing employees of the Massachusetts sewing factory to recover $890,021 in back wages and liquidated damages to resolve past violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

UnWrapped failed to pay proper overtime rates to 327 piece rate and hourly workers between April 2014 and April 2016, and failed to keep accurate records, Wage and Hour Division investigators found.

Who knows? You might be sleeping on an Unwrapped-sewn product tonight., UnWrapped is a Lowell, Mass., company that produces products, such as mattress covers, pillows, tote bags and custom items, under contract

The division’s investigation was part of a joint enforcement effort with the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. The state’s investigation identified alleged violations of Massachusetts law involving failure to pay minimum wage, failure to provide earned sick time and retaliation against two workers who cooperated with the investigation, for which the company will pay $293,170.

Under the terms of the Wage and Hour Division agreement, UnWrapped will complete payment of back wages and damages to the workers by no later than March 15, 2017, and will submit proof of payment to the division. The company has paid a civil money penalty of $8,350 for a child labor violation and also agreed to refrain from retaliation against any employees for filing a complaint or testifying in a matter related to the FLSA.

Disney Pays $3.8M to End DOL’s Case Over Deduction of Workers Costumes From Pay

The Walt Disney Company does its best to project a wholesome image at its theme parks and resorts. But like any company sometimes this behemoth slips up and doesn’t comply with labor laws.

An agreement the company reached with the Labor Department, announced today, puts a stop to the company’s practice of deducting a uniform or “costume” expense, causing some employees’ hourly rates to fall below the federal minimum wage, the division said. The resorts also did not compensate employees performing duties during a pre-shift period before the designated start of their shifts, and during a post-shift period, the DOL alleged. Additionally, the resorts failed to maintain required time and payroll records.

Under the agreement, back wages will be paid to 16,339 employees of the Disney Vacation Club Management Corp. and the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc., both in Florida.

Here’s DOL’s announcement of the settlement.

My thanks to Jon Hyman for featuring this blog post in his March 24 weekly roundup on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog.

DOL: Cleaning Company Owes $104K for Not Paying Employees for Travel Time Between Sites

Employers must pay their employees for all time worked, including time spent traveling between worksites.

So reminded the U.S. Department of Labor last week in announcing the findings of an investigation of minimum wage and overtime claims against a Wisconsin industrial cleaning company.

DOL said that its investigators found that the contractor, Mid Valley Industrial failed to pay workers for all their time spent loading trucks and driving to job sites, resulting in violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Fifty six workers injured by these practices will share an award of $104,421 in back wages, DOL announced.

Investigators found minimum wage and overtime violations occurred when employees were not compensated for time spent reporting to the employer’s shop, loading trucks and driving to job sites. Additionally, at least one salaried employee was erroneously classified as exempt from overtime. The company also failed to maintain accurate records of hours worked by employees.

“Other employers who may be committing this same violation should take note, and rectify their practices,” the DOL said.

Here’s the DOL’s Feb. 11 announcement of the award.

Pa. Marketing Company Owes Millions to Workers Docked for Taking Work Breaks

If you’re going to give your workers coffee and bathroom breaks, make sure you include this time away from the desk as part of the compensation you pay your workers.

That’s the message from a federal court’s ruling that a Malvern, Pa., publishing company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by docking telemarketers’ pay for time not spent making sales calls, sometimes bringing their wages below the federal minimum wage.

For violations occurring through June 2013, Progressive Business Publications and its owner Edward Satell could be liable for at least $1.75 million in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 6,000 employees who worked in 14 call centers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, the U.S. Department of Labor said in an announcement of the ruling.

Progressive’s refusal to come into compliance for more than two years during the course of the litigation will increase significantly the amount of back wages and damages due its employees as a result of its illegal pay policy.

As the DOL explained:

“The FLSA does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5-to-20 minutes), the law considers the breaks compensable work hours that must be included in the sum of hours for the work week and considered in determining overtime.”

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. Employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Both back wages and liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.”

Here’s the DOL’s Monday announcement concerning the case.