Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department sues Kentucky cable, telephone and Internet installer to recover unpaid overtime wages, damages for 165 employees
Investigations found Bowlin Services LLC and Bowlin Group LLC misclassified employees as independent contractors, falsified payroll records
COVINGTON, Ky. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit seeking back wages and liquidated damages for 165 employees of Bowlin Group LLC and Bowlin Services LLC for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The department’s suit was filed following investigations by its Wage and Hour Division that found the defendants had misclassified employees as independent contractors, and violated the FLSA by denying overtime compensation and failing to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The department also is requesting a permanent injunction against the companies to prevent future FLSA violations.
Bowlin Group LLC maintains its principal office in Walton and operates five subsidiaries. One of these subsidiaries is Bowlin Services LLC, which performs installation services primarily under contract to Insight Communications, a cable, telephone and Internet provider in Kentucky.
“Our investigators found that 165 hardworking employees – including many who had been misclassified as independent contractors – were required to work long hours but were illegally denied overtime compensation,” said Oliver Peebles III, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta Regional Office. “Misclassification seriously harms employees by forcing them to shoulder additional costs such as payroll taxes and the full costs of any fringe benefits. This lawsuit puts employers on notice that we will not hesitate to take legal action to enforce the law.”
After conducting employee interviews and reviewing the company’s records, the division found that some installers were classified as employees but other installers, doing the same work, were classified as independent contractors.
All installers, regardless of their classification, were paid based upon the pieces of equipment they installed rather than at an hourly rate. They were thereby denied overtime compensation, which would have been at least one and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours beyond 40 hours in a week.
In addition, the employer failed to keep accurate records of the number of hours worked by each installer and falsified payroll records to minimize the numbers of hours worked. The amount of back wages and damages owed continues to accrue while the employer remains out of compliance with the law.
These investigations were conducted by the division’s Louisville District Office. The department is represented in court by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta. The solicitor’s Nashville Branch Office filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Jury Division, located in Covington.
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat both to employees entitled to good and safe jobs, as well as to employers who obey the law. Too often employees are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Honest employers have a difficult time competing against scofflaws. The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and to level the playing field for employers that play by the rules.
The FLSA requires that covered 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 must maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.
Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/search. 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 its Louisville office at 502-582-5226. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
Solis v. Bowlin Group LLC
Civil Action File Number 2:12-cv-00076
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