Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department sues Warwick, RI, employer for underpaying employees and forging worker's signature on wage receipt
Back wages and liquidated damages sought from Something Fishy and company president
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Something Fishy Inc., a Warwick business that sells, installs and services aquariums and fish ponds, and its president, Kurt Harrington, for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, including forging an employee's signature on a back wage payment receipt.
An initial investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that the defendants underpaid three employees by compensating them with "straight time" instead of time and-one-half their regular wage rates for hours over 40 in a workweek, in violation of the FLSA's overtime provisions. Harrington signed an agreement in 2010 to pay the back wages and provide the division with receipt forms signed by the employees verifying that they had received the back wages owed.
A subsequent investigation determined that only two employees were paid back wages, and Harrington had falsified the third employee's signature on the receipt form he submitted to the division. In addition, the defendants continued to pay workers straight time instead of overtime.
"This employer willfully and repeatedly has violated the FLSA by failing to pay overtime, keep proper records and come into compliance, as well as by falsifying an employee's signature to evade paying him," said Neil Patrick, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Hartford District Office in Connecticut, which oversees Rhode Island and conducted the investigations. "This lawsuit demonstrates that the Labor Department will use all enforcement tools available, including litigation, to recover workers' wages and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers."
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island in Providence by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor, seeks an award of actual and liquidated damages for the workers; an order enjoining the defendants from future FLSA violations; and any other necessary or appropriate relief, including not allowing the employer to withhold any wages or compensation found due to the employees by the court.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, 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), its Hartford District Office at 860-240-4160 or its Providence Area Office at 401-528-4431. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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.