Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
HOUSTON -- United Towing & Transport Inc. has paid $157,362 in back wages to 72 tow truck drivers and roadside assistance technicians after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions at its Houston locations.
“These tow truck operators worked long hours—often pulling 12-hour shifts—but were denied proper compensation for their hard work,” said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator for the Southwest. “Employers are legally obligated to maintain accurate records and to pay employees for all hours worked, including proper overtime compensation when hours exceed 40 in a workweek. Other employers should learn from the experiences of United Towing & Transport and evaluate their own employment practices to ensure they are paying their employees in compliance with the FLSA.”
Investigators from the division’s Houston District Office found the employer made illegal deductions from employees’ wages to pay for damages made to vehicles in tow or serviced by the company, which resulted in their wages falling below the minimum wage requirement of $7.25 per hour. The employer also violated the overtime provisions of the FLSA by paying overtime premiums for those hours worked over eight on a workday rather than paying time and one-half the regular rates of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, and by failing to include discretionary bonuses in the regular rate of pay when computing overtime, as required by the act. Additionally, the employer failed to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Investigators also found that three employees, working as tow truck operators, were misclassified as independent contractors, and denied proper overtime compensation, in violation of the FLSA.
United Towing & Transport operates from several locations in Alabama, California and Texas. Following the investigation, the company agreed to pay all back wages due to the affected workers, and has also agreed to maintain future compliance by ensuring employees are properly classified and compensated for all hours worked, in compliance with the FLSA.
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 also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
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 Houston District Office at 713-339-5500. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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