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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 11-770-PHI / WH 11-053

Date: 

May 31, 2011

Contact: 

Joanna Hawkins or Leni Uddyback-Fortson

Phone: 

215-861-5101 or 215-861-5102

US Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division launches initiative to protect Virginia's hotel and motel workers


Agency aims to boost compliance with federal wage law

NORFOLK, Va. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has launched a compliance initiative focusing on the hotel and motel industry in Virginia, where the division has found persistent noncompliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This initiative is one effort toward the division’s broader goal of achieving sustainable and system-wide compliance in industries with high concentrations of vulnerable workers.

From 2007 to 2010, the division's district office in Richmond conducted approximately120 investigations of hotel and motel employers throughout its jurisdiction, recovering more than $400,000 in back wages for 956 employees who had been denied full and fair compensation due to violations of the FLSA.

"The hotel and motel industry employs a large number of low-wage and vulnerable workers who are less likely to step forward when subjected to unfair treatment and disparate wages," said Patricia Pickett, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Norfolk Area Office, which is part of the agency’s Richmond District. "The objective of this initiative is to identify and remedy systemic labor violations so that workers are protected against exploitation, and law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage for playing by the rules and paying fair wages."

The hotel and motel industry is characterized by a wide variety of employment arrangements such as subcontracting, franchising, third-party management and other practices that make the worker-employer tie tenuous and far less transparent. The Wage and Hour Division is concerned about the prevalence of unlawful pay practices such as paying straight time wages, rather than time and one-half the regular rates of pay for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek; failure to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation to temporary help or employee leasing company workers who are jointly employed by a hotel; and failure to record and pay employees for all hours worked.

This initiative involves investigations of hotel and motel properties in the greater Hampton Roads area to assess employer compliance among establishment owners, third-party management companies and all others providing labor to these properties for the performance of essential hospitality services such as housekeeping, food service, landscaping and janitorial maintenance. When violations are found, the division will vigorously pursue corrective action – including payment of back wages, civil money penalties and liquidated damages – to ensure accountability and deter future violations.

Additionally, the agency will conduct outreach to employer and employee associations, community organizations, government agencies and other stakeholders to engage them in dialogue about violative industry practices, and encourage their participation in promoting compliance throughout all layers of employment relationships.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 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. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

For more information on the FLSA and other federal laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.