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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [03/22/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-0399-DAL

Bermea Construction in Friona, Texas, pays $56,000 in overtime back wages to 7 employees following US Labor Department investigation

FRIONA, Texas — Friona-based Bermea Construction has paid $56,051 to seven current and former laborers, machine operators and foremen following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime provisions.

"Employees deserve to be paid for every hour they work, including time and one-half for hours over 40 in a week," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "Employees found to be due back wages in this case had worked as many as 60 hours in a week without receiving overtime compensation. This practice is illegal and unacceptable."

An investigation by the division's Amarillo Field Office found that the employer failed to pay for hours worked over 40 in a week during the actual pay periods in which they were worked, opting instead to "bank" those hours and then pay them out to supplement employees' pay in short workweeks during the company's slow winter season. When these hours were paid, the employer paid "straight time" rates, instead of time and one-half employees' regular rates as required for overtime hours. Both the practices of banking overtime hours and paying them at straight time rates are violations of the FLSA. The company also failed to pay wages owed on scheduled paydays.

Bermea Construction, which provides asphalt paving and parking lot repair for schools and private businesses in Texas and New Mexico, has agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future. The back wages owed have been paid in full.

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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are also required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

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 conveniently can 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.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's Albuquerque district office at 505-248-6100. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.