Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Gatesway Foundation Inc. in Broken Arrow has agreed to pay $146,771 in back wages to 140 current and former workers with disabilities, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that disclosed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s special minimum wage rates and record-keeping provisions.
Gatesway Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides residential services and vocational training programs for individuals with disabilities throughout the state of Oklahoma. It operates more than 16 community rehabilitation centers, as well as several residential and assisted living facilities.
“The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that vulnerable populations are protected from exploitation,” said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in the Southwest. “As demonstrated by this case, we will not hesitate to take action to protect workers when labor laws are not being implemented correctly.”
Investigators determined that Gatesway Foundation had violated the FLSA by failing to pay several workers with disabilities proper wages for all hours of their work, as well as maintain accurate records of employees’ work hours, special minimum wage rates and other employment conditions.
Section 14(c) of the FLSA authorizes employers to pay special minimum wage rates after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division. These rates are less than the federal minimum wage and may be paid to workers who have disabilities when those disabilities diminish their productivity for the jobs being performed. The FLSA requires that an employer paying special rates create and retain certain records in addition to those normally maintained. The records include documentation of each employee’s disability and how that disability impairs the employee’s productivity and earning capacities.
In addition to paying all back wages due, the organization has agreed to maintain future compliance with the FLSA by submitting recertification documents in a timely manner and performing annual prevailing wage surveys in accordance with the special minimum wage certification requirements.
Generally, 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. However, Section 14(c) is a limited exception to those general requirements.
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). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd. Information about special minimum wage rates can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs39.pdf.
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