Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
DENVER, Colorado -- Crème de la Crème, a Denver-based child care provider with locations throughout the country, has paid $41,440 in back wages owed to 354 current and former child care workers due to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. Investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations at 21 day care centers in Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois.
Investigators found systemic FLSA violations resulting from the employer’s failure to properly compensate overtime hours, that is, those beyond 40 in a workweek. Specifically, the violations include failing to pay employees for time spent at mandatory training courses as well as for work performed prior to or beyond scheduled shift periods. Also, in one instance, employees were hired by the company to teach soccer and tennis at the facility but were misclassified as independent contractors and consequently denied proper compensation. Finally, the employer failed to maintain proper records of employees’ work hours and wages.
In addition to paying all back wages owed, Crème de la Crème has agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future.
“Child care employees work long hours looking after children’s safety, yet are often denied the wages and workplace protections guaranteed by law. We are committed to strengthening compliance in this industry, which is important not just for the workers, but for all the families depending on them for quality child care services,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the division in the Southwest. “We are pleased that these workers finally will be paid their rightful wages and, as demonstrated by our ongoing initiative, will continue to investigate Colorado child care providers to remedy violations and ensure sustained compliance with the law.”
The investigations were conducted under a multiyear enforcement initiative focused on the child care industry in Colorado, in which widespread noncompliance with the FLSA has been found. Since 2009, the division’s Denver District Office has conducted more than 100 investigations of child care providers in its jurisdiction. Eighty-six percent of all investigated employers were found to be in violation of the FLSA, and the division has recovered approximately $195,000 in back wages owed to more than 800 workers.
Child care is a rapidly expanding industry that employs many low-wage, vulnerable workers who, due to a lack of knowledge of the law or unwillingness to exercise their rights, are vulnerable to disparate treatment and labor violations. Enforcement initiatives also are being conducted in Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas. When violations are found, the division is vigorously pursuing corrective action – including payment of back wages, civil money penalties and liquidated damages – to ensure accountability and deter future violations. Due to the severity of violations found throughout this industry, the division is documenting its structure to better target enforcement efforts.
As part of the initiatives, the division continues to provide compliance assistance and education to employers and industry associations regarding the requirements of the FLSA and the consequences of violating the law. The division is also conducting outreach to workers, employee associations, community organizations, state licensing agencies and other stakeholders to inform them of the ongoing initiative and encourage participation in promoting compliance.
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. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the Department of Labor is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/search. Publicly available enforcement data are available through the free mobile application “Eat Shop Sleep,” which enables consumers, employees and other members of the public to check if a hotel, restaurant or retail location has been investigated by the Wage and Hour Division and whether FLSA violations were found. The app is available at https://sites.google.com/site/eatshopsleepdol.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its San Antonio office at 210-308-4515. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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