Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $22,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 26 janitorial services employees of Knights Facilities Management Inc. after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. Michigan-based KFM provides grounds maintenance and janitorial services through its office at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, which is used by the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills team.
“To see janitors fall below the minimum wage while providing services to an industry that makes billions of dollars every year is extremely disappointing and legally unacceptable. The Buffalo Bills and other sports franchises need to pay attention to how contractors are treating their employees,” said Michael Fitzgerald, the Wage and Hour Division’s area director in Buffalo. “Evasive business practices, such as using temporary staffing agencies or other third-party payroll schemes to avoid paying overtime compensation, are not a legal way to reduce labor costs. These violations hurt workers as well as the vast majority of employers who play by the rules and pay fair wages.”
A thorough review of company records and time sheets by the division’s Buffalo Area Office determined that KFM employees were required to work long hours and often on weekends to service special events, such as Buffalo Bills home games, without being paid proper minimum wage or overtime compensation. Once employees had reached 40 work hours in a week, KFM would move them onto the payrolls of temporary staffing agencies it had contracted. This action enabled KFM to pay only “straight time” for hours worked beyond 40, rather than time and one-half workers’ regular rates of pay as required by the FLSA. Additionally, KFM did not correctly calculate all hours worked by employees and failed to combine all hours worked by employees on different jobs, causing them to be paid less than the minimum wage.
KFM has paid $11,044 in back wages plus liquidated damages to the affected employees. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for the back wages as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages. The damages are paid directly to the affected employees. Additionally, KFM has committed to maintaining an accurate timekeeping and payroll system that accounts for all hours worked by its employees, including those worked during game days and special events.
“Low-wage employees, especially those in the janitorial industry, should know that they can turn to the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division if they believe they are not being paid properly,” said Fitzgerald. “We look forward to discussing with the Buffalo Bills and the NFL how we can work together to ensure that stadium workers are paid fair wages and employed in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Buffalo office at 716-842-2950 or the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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