Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department sues Phil’s Sales and Service in Columbiana, Ohio to secure back wages and liquidated damages for nine workers
COLUMBIANA, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court for the Northern District of Ohio against Phil’s Sales and Service LLC and shareholders Phillip Welce and Jodee Boerio after an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division disclosed evidence of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions. The department’s lawsuit seeks to recover unpaid overtime compensation as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages for nine employees, and also requests the court to permanently enjoin the defendants from committing future violations of the FLSA.
Investigators from the division’s Columbus district office found that the defendants failed to compensate nine employees working as mechanics and/or parts department staff at time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked more than 40 in a work week as required by the FLSA. To date, the company has paid one employee, an administrative assistant, the back wages due.
“The FLSA was passed 75 years ago with minimum wage and overtime provisions to protect workers and level the playing field for employers. There are exemptions to some provisions but employers are responsible for determining exactly when and how these exemptions apply. Phil’s Sales and Service has been found violating the FLSA by improperly claiming workers are exempt from overtime,” said George Victory, the Wage and Hour district director in Columbus. “The filing of this lawsuit demonstrates the department’s commitment to pursuing violators vigorously to ensure compliance with the law. In an industrial area that has suffered economically in the past few years, these back wages will have a great impact on the workers,” he said.
Phil’s Sales and Service sells and services lawn and yard equipment such as mowers, tractors and chain saws. The company contends the employees are exempt from overtime under a provision of the FLSA that allows an exemption for sales and servicing of farm implements. This exemption, however, does not apply when the establishment is primarily engaged in the sales of lawn and garden equipment used by homeowners and similar consumers.
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. In general, hours worked includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Employers 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 visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.
Thomas E. Perez, secretary of labor, United States Department of Labor v. Phil’s Sales and Service LLC, Phillip C. Welce and Jodee Boerio
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