Wiljo Interiors Inc. in Tulsa pays more than $200K in unpaid wages and benefits to 178 misclassified construction workers

US Department of Labor investigation finds contractor responsible as a joint employer of its subcontractor’s workers


WHD News Brief: [12/15/2015]
Release Number: 15-2312-DAL


Employer: Wiljo Interiors Inc.

Site: Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Investigation Findings: A recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found Wiljo Interiors Inc. violated overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act; and did not pay the proper prevailing wage rates or fringe benefits required under the Davis Bacon Act.

Wiljo Interiors was sub-contracted by prime contractor, Cherokee CRC LLC, to work on a $2.9 million federally-funded construction project at the Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Wiljo Interiors then brought in an additional sub-contractor, Strong Rock Drywall LLC, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, misclassified its owner and workers as independent contractors, yet dictated what they would pay them. Strong Rock also failed to pay its employees as required by law, but their work was directed and controlled by Wiljo. Therefore, the division found there was a joint employment relationship between the two employers, holding both employers responsible, both individually and jointly, for compliance with the FLSA. The FLSA states joint employment exists where workers have an employment relationship with one employer, and the economic realities show that they are economically dependent on – and thus simultaneously employed by – another entity involved in the work.

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Southern California flooring contractor pays more than $458K in back wages, damages to 127 workers following US Labor Department investigation

WHD News Release: [12/10/2015]
Release Number: 15-1870-SAN


RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Drivers experience frustrations when stuck in congested traffic areas, such as Los Angeles. Sometimes, other factors test their tolerance, such as spending multiple hours behind the wheel each day for work and not getting paid for all that time, as required by law. That is what happened to 127 workers in Riverside.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Mota’s Floorcovering Inc. in Riverside paid straight time for all hours worked – including those employees who put in more than 40 hours in a workweek – in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions. The company also required workers to travel each day to and from work sites, including out-of-town assignments. However, the company did not always count travel time correctly and compensate the time as hours worked. In addition, the employer failed to include compensable travel time for overtime wage calculations, and did not keep accurate time records, in violation of the FLSA.

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US Labor Department recovers more than $342K in unpaid overtime wages, damages for 22 So Cal construction and maintenance employees

WHD News Brief: [12/07/2015]
Release Number: 15-2280-SAN


Employer: Salinas Inc.

Site: 1537 E. McFadden Avenue, Suite G, Santa Ana, California 92705

Investigation findings: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Salinas Inc. violated the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The firm paid field workers, such as plumbers and carpet cleaners, a fixed semi-monthly salary regardless of the hours these employees actually worked. Some of these workers were also paid an additional flat rate for service calls. These employees often worked as many as 70 hours per week, but were not paid legally-required overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The carpeting, plumbing, painting and janitorial general contractor did use time cards for office staff but failed to keep any records of hours worked by their field employees, as required under federal law.

Resolution: Salinas will pay $171,428 in overtime back wages plus an equal, additional amount in liquidated damages, totaling $342,856 to 22 workers.

(Read More)

Santa Ana-based Salinas Inc. owes $343,000 to 22 workers after failing to pay overtime, federal government says

Dec. 7, 2015
Updated Dec. 8, 2015 2:01 p.m.


Salinas Inc., a Santa Ana construction company, was assessed $342,856, in back wages and damages for failing to pay overtime to 22 workers over two years, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday.

Salinas’ carpet installers, painters, janitors and plumbers worked as much as 70 hours per week without earning the requisite time-and-a half for weekly hours exceeding 40, the department found.

“When employers disregard employees’ rights to legally-required overtime pay, they not only harm workers and their families, but they also put law-abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage,” Rodolfo Cortez, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s San Diego District Office, said in a statement released to the media.

(Read More)

Halliburton pays nearly $18.3 million in overtime owed to more than 1,000 employees nationwide after US Labor Department investigation

Global oil and gas service provider failed to pay overtime


WHD News Release: [09/22/2015]
Release Number: 15-1647-DAL
UPDATED: 9:43 AM, Nov 24, 2015


HOUSTON – In one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages in recent years for the U.S. Department of Labor, oil and gas service provider, Halliburton, has agreed to pay $18,293,557 to 1,016 employees nationwide. The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigated Halliburton as part of an ongoing, multi-year compliance initiative in the oil and gas industry in the Southwest and Northeast.

Investigators found Halliburton incorrectly categorized employees in 28 job positions as exempt from overtime. The company did not pay overtime to these salaried employees – working as field service representatives, pipe recovery specialists, drilling tech advisors, perforating specialists and reliability tech specialists – when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company also failed to keep accurate records of hours worked by these employees.

“The Department of Labor takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure workers receive the wages they have earned. This settlement will put millions of dollars where they belong – in the pockets of hardworking people and their families,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers who don’t pay their employees the wages they have earned don’t just hurt their workers, they undercut employers who play by the rules. That’s why we work every day to help level the playing field.”

(Read More)

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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An Epidemic of Wage Theft Is Costing Workers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars a Year

Millions of Americans struggle to get by on low wages, often without any benefits such as paid sick leave, a pension, or even health insurance. Their difficult lives are made immeasurably harder when they do the work they have been hired to do, but their employers refuse to pay, pay for some hours but not others, or fail to pay overtime premiums when employees’ hours exceed 40 in a week.

This failure to pay what workers are legally entitled to can be called wage theft; in essence, it involves employers taking money that belongs to their employees and keeping it for themselves. Amounts that seem small, such as not paying for time spent preparing a work station at the start of a shift, or for cleaning up and closing up at the end of a shift, can add up.  When a worker earns only a minimum wage ($290 for a 40-hour week), shaving a mere half hour a day from the paycheck means a loss of more than $1,400 a year, including overtime premiums. That could be nearly 10 percent of a minimum-wage employee’s annual earnings-the difference between paying the rent and utilities or risking eviction and the loss of gas, water, or electric service.

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(Issue Brief #385 – Download PDF)

Updated Overtime Rules Would Cover 6.1 Million Workers

In March of 2014, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor would adjust the salary threshold that determines which workers are eligible for overtime pay, so that low-paid salaried workers get paid overtime when they work long hours. Currently, salaried workers who earn more than $455 per week ($23,660 per year) may be exempt from being paid time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours a week. EPI has previously recommended that the salary threshold be increased to $984-equal to its level in 1975, adjusted for inflation.

In Increasing the Overtime Salary Threshold is Family-Friendly Policy, EPI economist Heidi Shierholz examines who would be affected by this rule change and finds that raising the threshold to $984 would make 6.1 million more salaried workers eligible for overtime. In the first demographic breakdown of who would be affected by the rule change, Shierholz finds that an increase of this level would disproportionately help women, blacks, Hispanics, workers under age 35, and workers with lower levels of education. The newly covered workers would be those at the low end of the salary scale, who have limited power to bargain over their wages or hours.

“Raising the salary threshold for overtime will help low-paid managers and professionals, especially women and people of color, who are not being compensated when they work over 40 hours a week,” said Shierholz. “It’s clear that the Department of Labor should raise the threshold to $984, or even higher, so that low-paid white-collar workers are treated fairly.”

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(Copy of Report)

Fedex Settles Million-Dollar Misclassification Case, a Dozen Similar Suits Pending Nationwide

In a settlement of a federal court lawsuit in Maine, FedEx Ground has agreed to pay $5.8 million in back pay and legal fees to 141 drivers it misclassified as independent contractors.  The lawsuit claimed that FedEx denied overtime pay and made improper deductions in addition to requiring drivers to pay for their expenses.  While there were seven named plaintiffs in the case, only two signed the settlement.  The others felt the amount being paid out by FedEx was too low.

 The federal court judge noted that if the case had gone to trial, damages could have topped $10 million. Nonetheless, the court found the settlement fair and adequate:

 In approving the settlement last week, the court acknowledged that “the proposed settlement…is clearly a compromise that discounts to some degree…the drivers’ total claims” but is a “fair trade-off for the uncertainties of trial and appeal and a prolonged delay in receiving any money. In that regard, the court noted that FedEx Ground has won some independent contractor misclassification cases and lost others.

The court also found that the amount (one-third of the $5.8 million settlement) sought by the lawyers for the class for counsels’ legal fees, costs, and expenses was reasonable.

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Appalachian Oilfield Services Agrees to Pay $129,802 in Overtime Back Wages to 29 Workers at Ohio Oil Fracking Sites

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Appalachian Oilfield Services LLC has agreed to pay 25 heavy equipment operators $129,802 in overtime back wages after an investigation by the U.S.

Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the company was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. At eastern Ohio drilling locations, the workers provided cleanup services and hauled away muck ejected from wells in the oil fracking process.

“Companies that underpay their employees also undercut employers who obey the law and pay their workers lawfully required wages,” said George Victory, the Wage and Hour Division’s director in Columbus. “Failing to compensate employees properly for all hours worked is unacceptable. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring workers receive the pay they have rightfully earned.”

An investigation conducted by the division’s Columbus District Office found that equipment operators were paid a flat daily rate for a 12-hour shift. When they worked in excess of 12 hours, they were paid an hourly rate. No overtime compensation was provided for hours worked in excess of 40 hours, in violation of the FLSA.

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