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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [05/23/2012]
Contact Name: Michael D’Aquino or Michael Wald
Phone Number: (404) 562-2076 or x2078
Release Number: 12-0940-ATL

Bierlein Cos. Inc. agrees to pay 147 employees nearly $217,000 in back wages and damages following US Department of Labor investigation

Company failed to pay workers for training, safety meetings and travel

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. Bierlein Cos. Inc. of Clarksville has agreed to pay 147 employees $108,453 in back wages, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to bring the amount to $216,906. Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime and record-keeping provisions were found following an investigation by U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division officials. Bierlein is a commercial and industrial construction company with its corporate headquarters located in Midland, Mich.

An investigation conducted by the division's Nashville District Office officials found that the employer did not record or pay employees for time spent attending morning safety meetings, resulting in unpaid overtime hours. Bierlein also paid employees straight-time rates for hours spent in training and in travel, but did not include these hours in weekly totals for overtime purposes, resulting in additional overtime violations. The company also failed to include safety bonuses in the regular rates of pay for employees when computing overtime and failed to maintain accurate records of all hours worked for nonexempt employees. In addition, one employee was improperly classified as an exempt, salaried employee and was consequently denied overtime wages.

"Employers are legally obligated to maintain accurate records and pay for all hours worked, including overtime when employees work more than 40 hours in a week," said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Nashville District Office. "Other similar employers in the construction industry should take notice and ensure that their policies are in compliance with federal law."

The employer agreed to full future compliance with the FLSA, to correct all issues identified in this investigation, and to pay the back wages and liquidated damages in full. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, "hours worked" includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

The department has a smartphone application to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users can conveniently track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. This new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers' records, workers now can keep their own records. This and other Labor Department apps are available at http://www.dol.gov/dol/apps.

The division's Nashville office can be reached at 615-781-5343. Information on the FLSA and other wage laws is available by calling the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) and at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.