Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Manchester, N.H. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $71,809 in minimum wage and overtime back wages for 48 workers jointly employed by GHM Wentworth LLC, doing business as Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle, and contractor Eco-Clean New England Inc., doing business as The Cleaning Crew in Londonderry. Wentworth contracted its housekeeping and kitchen work through Eco-Clean; consequently, the companies were jointly responsible for ensuring compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
An investigation conducted by the Manchester District Office of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division found that employees, many of whom traveled more than 120 miles daily between the Boston area and New Castle, were not properly compensated. Employees were paid "straight time" wages rather than time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 during a single week, as required by the FLSA's overtime provisions. Additionally, minimum wage violations resulted when the employers failed to provide wages owed from several payrolls and when some resort employees were not compensated for all hours of their work.
"Employers can contract out their work, but they cannot contract out the responsibility to comply with the law," said Daniel Cronin, the Wage and Hour Division's assistant district director in Manchester. "The division is committed to protecting vulnerable workers against exploitation and ensuring that law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage for playing by the rules and paying fair wages. The resolution of this case should remind all employers in the hotel industry, and others, that using an intermediary or third-party labor provider is not a way to avoid liability for back wages."
GHM Wentworth Inc. has agreed to pay all back wages due the affected employees and to maintain future compliance with the FLSA. The company also has committed to ensuring full compliance by all contractors with which it has a joint employment relationship. Specifically, the company will require Eco-Clean to submit weekly payroll documents to ensure that the jointly employed workers are being paid proper wages for all hours worked.
The Wage and Hour Division is in the process of distributing the back wages as it is able to locate the 48 workers. Housekeeping and kitchen workers employed by these companies during the time covered by the investigation, March 2008 to March 2010, are encouraged to contact the division's Manchester office at 603-666-7716 to learn whether they are eligible for back wages.
"We want low-wage and other vulnerable workers to know that they have a right to contact us when they are not paid the wages they are due by law for all of their work," said Cronin.
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 hourly 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 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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