Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WACO, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced today that Belton-based High Performance Ropes of America was convicted of one felony count of making false statements and ordered to pay $165,356 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages to 31 employees, fined $12,100 in civil money penalties for repeat and willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and received a court-ordered fine of $10,000. The owner, plant manager and office manager were also convicted on separate felony counts.
A two-year investigation by the Wage and Hour Division covering December 2008 to December 2010 found that the employer failed to pay its workers time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in each workweek. A second investigation from December 2010 to March 2013 revealed that the employer submitted false payment evidence to the department and demanded kickbacks from the workers while continuing to avoid overtime obligations. The employer also kept a second set of time records hidden from investigators. High Performance Ropes of America makes heavy duty wire rope used in construction, mining, oil and gas, bridge suspension and ski lifts.
The division, in cooperation with the Justice Department, provided evidence that the company and its officers repeatedly and willfully violated the overtime and record-keeping provisions of the FLSA. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. The company and its officials were found guilty of felony counts, including making a false statement, aiding and abetting illegal re-entry into the U.S. and withholding information about a crime. Luis Alvarez Jr., Mario Champo and Mary Becerra were sentenced to time served with probation.
“High Performance Ropes of America, a company with a history of FLSA violations, furnished falsified records to Labor Department investigators and willfully withheld information that showed employees worked up to 96 hours per workweek, with no overtime compensation,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “These were egregious labor violations that resulted in the exploitation of low-wage workers. As demonstrated by the prosecution and sentencing of the defendants, we are committed to working with federal agencies, such as the Justice Department, to pursue the full force of the law against employers who engage in criminal activities.”
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour 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. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are generally liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, which are paid directly to the affected employees.
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 its Dallas District Office at 817-861-2150. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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