A federal judge ordered American Made Bags LLC in Akron and its owner to pay a total of $189,756 – $94,893 in back wages and an equal amount in damages – to 48 employees after two separate federal investigations found numerous illegal pay practices.
In the first investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the employer misclassified several employees as independent contractors and failed to pay both misclassified and other employees accurate overtime wages at time-and-one-half an employee’s hourly rate of pay. The employer also failed to maintain required wage records.
Following that investigation, American Made Bags agreed to pay $47,457 in back wages due to 38 employees but failed to complete all payments as agreed.
In the second investigation, division investigators found the company again in violation of overtime rules. The employer also initially misrepresented his pay practices to investigators. In the second investigation, investigators found $46,797 due 24 employees.
The department first filed suit against the company on April 17, 2019 and filed an amended complaint on Jan. 27, 2021. On Feb. 15, 2022, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division issued her opinion and an injunction against American Made Bags LLC and its owner Thomas W. Armour, II for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act repeatedly.
“Employers must ensure they understand wage laws and fully comply with them,” explained Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Dieera Fitzgerald in Columbus, Ohio. “After our first investigation at American Made Bags LLC, the company agreed to change their pay practices and comply with the law. We discovered, however, they failed to live up to that agreement, stopped paying overtime and once again shortchanged their workers. The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate disregard for the law and attempts to cheat workers out of their hard-earned wages.”
American Made Bags, LLC customizes products such as backpacks, duffel bags, coolers, portfolios and other items.