Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Something Fishy in Warwick, RI, and company president pay back wages, damages to employees, resolving US Labor Department suit
Employer also pays penalties for wage violations
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Something Fishy Inc., a Warwick business that sells, installs and services aquariums and fish ponds, and the company’s president, Kurt Harrington, have paid $2,835 in back wages and liquidated damages to three workers to resolve a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the terms of a consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island in Providence, the defendants also have paid a total of $1,168 in civil money penalties to the department for the violations.
In April, the Labor Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor filed a suit based on the results of an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. Investigators found that the defendants had underpaid three employees by compensating them with “straight time” instead of time and one-half their regular wage rates for hours worked over 40 in a week, failed to keep adequate and accurate payroll records, and forged an employee’s signature on a back wage receipt form that falsely showed back wages owed to the employee from a prior wage investigation had been paid.
“The Labor Department will not tolerate employers who repeatedly violate the law. They can and will be subject to additional sanctions,” said Neil Patrick, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Hartford District Office in Connecticut, which oversees Rhode Island. “This employer’s recurring failure to comply led to the assessment of liquidated damages and penalties that resulted in payment almost triple the amount of the original back wages. We will use all enforcement tools available to remedy such noncompliance and ensure a level playing field for those employers who obey the law.”
The defendants have paid the back wages to the Wage and Hour Division, which will distribute them to the affected workers. The consent judgment also permanently prohibits the defendants from future FLSA violations.
“This judgment carries the weight of the court,” said Merle Hyman, wage and hour counsel in the regional solicitor’s office. “If the defendants violate any provisions of this injunction, they will be charged with contempt and brought before a federal judge to answer that charge.”
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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
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.
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