Hey Compliance Warriors!
Do you know how I am always telling you to be careful because sometimes the DOL assesses fines to individual managers as well as the corporate structure? Well, it has happened again. Just another reason to become one of our Boss Calls™ members!
A federal court in New Jersey ordered an electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning company based in Union, and its two co-managers, to pay 89 electricians, electrician helpers and HVAC technicians after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found the defendants deliberately denied overtime.
In a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the court ordered FTR Electrical and Mechanical Contractors Inc. – operating as FTR Electrical & HVAC Services – the company’s part-owner, President Antonio Goncalves, and company Vice President Francisco Carmo to pay $711,694 in back wages and liquidated damages to the affected workers. The court also ordered the employer and its co-managers to pay $16,450 in civil money penalties and interest to the department for their willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The court’s action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division into the employer’s pay practices and litigation by the Office of the Solicitor. The division found that the defendants willfully violated the FLSA when they did the following:
- Paid employees straight-time for hours worked over 40 per week.
- Required employees to work off the clock and did not pay them for all hours worked.
- Required employees to clock in when they started work each workday, but directed them not to clock out when they finished working at the end of each workday.
- Paid employees for a maximum of eight hours each workday, regardless of how many hours employees actually worked each day.
- Failed to pay additional wages to employees who regularly worked more than eight hours each workday, resulting in workweeks longer than forty hours.
- Failed to maintain accurate records of employees’ hours worked and total wages paid.
“The company and its co-managers intentionally denied overtime wages to employees and deprived them of their basic right to the wages they earned for the hard work they provided,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin, in Mountainside, New Jersey. “We encourage employers to reach out to us and to use the many tools we provide to help them understand their responsibilities under the law. The consequences of non-compliance with federal labor laws can be serious and expensive.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor will hold violators like FTR Electrical and Mechanical Contractors legally accountable to protect law-abiding employers against those who attempt to game the system and gain an unfair competitive advantage,” said Regional Solicitor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York. “We will pursue all appropriate and effective legal remedies, including securing liquidated damages for workers in addition to back wages.”
In addition to requiring payment of the back wages, liquidated damages, penalties and interest, the consent judgement enjoins the defendants from future violations of the FLSA’s overtime and recordkeeping requirements.
The division’s Northern New Jersey District Office conducted the investigation. Senior Trial Attorney Susan Jacobs with the department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case.