US Labor Department lawsuit alleges Wisconsin landscape service retaliated against 2 employees who filed complaint seeking overtime pay

U.S. Department of Labor   October 23, 2014
Wage and Hour Division

ARPIN, Wis. — The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Carl’s Landscape Service Inc. in Arpin, alleging that the company retaliated against two workers for contacting the department’s Wage and Hour Division with a complaint about unpaid overtime.

“The law prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee who files a complaint or cooperates in a Wage and Hour investigation,” said Theresa Walls, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Minneapolis. “The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate willful employee intimidation or coercion and will make use of every tool we have available to ensure that a fair investigation is conducted and workers are protected.”

After the company learned of the worker’s contact with the Wage and Hour Division, one employee was fired and the second was not called back following a seasonal layoff. A complaint has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against the company and its owner, Darrell Kasner, seeking lost wages for the two employees and an injunction against future retaliation.

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US Labor Department secures nearly $2M in back wages, benefits for nearly 150 workers at federally-funded solar energy project in Nevada

WHD News Release: [10/23/2014] 

LAS VEGAS – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $1,914,681.50 in back wages and fringe benefits for 147 workers at Proimtu Mmi-Nv LLC, a Henderson-based subcontractor providing construction services at the federally funded Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Tonopah. This project, which received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, is a 110 MW solar energy power plant that will power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods.

“The money we’ve recovered for these workers is not a windfall – it is their hard-earned pay that their employer was legally obligated to pay them but did not,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division. “Companies that benefit from federal funding must see to it that the money is used properly, and that their workers are compensated according to the law.”

An investigation found that Proimtu Mmi-Nv violated the prevailing wage and fringe benefits requirements of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts for the majority of their employees working at the Tonopah desert solar energy project. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is subject to specific requirements under the DBRA since its funding includes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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Report: Seattle Needs Community Groups To Help Enforce New $15 Minimum Wage

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2014

Seattle, WA – Seattle made history by becoming first city in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage, but it will need to strengthen its labor standards enforcement to ensure that workers get the raise due to them-and community groups should play a key role in that effort, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project.

“We don’t have a $15 minimum wage if we don’t enforce a $15 minimum wage,” said Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project and the report’s co-author. “Educating the employer community is one key to compliance, but education isn’t enough. A robust wage enforcement system needs strong partnerships with local community organizations-groups that are trusted by workers who might not be willing to file complaints directly with the city.”

(Read Full Press Release Here)

(PDF of Report)

City may refuse licenses to companies convicted of wage theft

Maria Garcia

POSTED: 06:28 PM MDT Oct 20, 2014 
UPDATED: 06:37 PM MDT Oct 20, 2014

EL PASO, Texas – The City of El Paso is preparing an ordinance meant to deter companies from stealing wages from workers. The City Council on Monday unanimously voted to direct the City Manager to draft a wage theft ordinance that would mirror the City of Houston’s law.

Houston’s ordinance forbids any person or company from obtaining or renewing any City license or permit for five years if the company has been convicted of wage theft and exhuasted all appeals. Barring persons from city licenses essentially bans them from working within the City. The ordinance also bars the city from hiring people or firms criminally convicted or assessed civil penalties or judgments related to wage theft, again provided appeals are exhausted and a civil judgment in favor of the worker goes unpaid.

The Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project, in 2011, did a study of how many workers have been victims of wage theft and say the problem is rampant. For example, they say as many as 67-percent of low wage workers aren’t paid the overtime they’re owed.