WHD News Release: [06/29/2011]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-6876 or x6976
Release Number: 11-1010-CHI
Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital pays 21 workers more than $85,000 in back wages, damages following US Labor Department investigation
Company also pays $23,100 in civil money penalties for willful violations
CINCINNATI The U.S. Department of Labor has received payment from Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital to restore $42,627 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to 21 workers at its two locations, Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital in Pleasant Run and Sycamore Animal Hospital in Symmes Township. The department filed a civil contempt suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio following an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that disclosed willful and repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay and record-keeping provisions. The department also has received from the defendants $23,100 in civil money penalties assessed for willful violations of the FLSA. The company paid the wages, damages and penalties, June 29.
"I am pleased that these vulnerable workers will receive back wages and damages," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital and its owners clearly understood their legal obligations, but they took advantage of workers they believed would not stand up for their rights. Employers have a legal obligation to abide by the wage laws of our nation and must not engage in practices to circumvent those laws."
Investigators determined that the company and its owners, Michael Cable and Stephanie Cable, violated the FLSA by requiring employees working as animal handlers to pay back overtime compensation they had earned for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Payroll records were falsified for workers at both locations by showing the overtime compensation as having been paid. The employers would pay workers the full amount due, including overtime compensation, then require the workers to give back the overtime portion in cash.
This investigation was the fourth of this employer by the Wage and Hour Division for alleged violations of the FLSA. Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital is subject to a 2007 court-ordered injunction not to violate the act as a result of an earlier Labor Department suit filed against the company for failing to pay $9,225 in back wages to 19 employees. Those wages since have been paid. With payment of back wages, damages and penalties in this case, the consent order will purge defendants of contempt for violating the 2007 injunction.
The latest situation was brought to the attention of the Wage and Hour Division by the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center and Su Casa Hispanic Ministry.
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 hourly rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing federal labor laws pertaining to the minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, child labor and special employment, family and medical leave, migrant workers, lie detector tests, worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts. Collectively, these labor standards cover most private, state and local government employment. They protect more than 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million establishments throughout the United States and its territories. For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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