Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Dog handlers employed by Tennessee-based K-9 SOS to receive nearly $179,000 in back wages, benefits following US Labor Department investigation
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor has found that K-9 SOS Search on Site, a federal subcontractor, owes $178,721 in back wages and benefits to 34 dog handlers. The division discovered violations of the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act’s fringe benefit requirements as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.
K-9 SOS provides detection dog services as a subcontractor of Wackenhut Security, and performs work under federal service contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration in Oak Ridge, among other government facilities. Investigators found that K-9 SOS failed to record and pay workers for hours that dog handlers spent picking up, transporting and returning the dogs to and from work sites and kennels, resulting in unpaid overtime compensation. Additionally, the employer failed to pay the correct fringe benefits to these kennel workers and did not provide the correct number of vacation weeks to its employees according to their years of service. The violations resulted in $39,243 in fringe benefits and $139,478 in overtime back wages not paid to employees.
“The terms of federally funded contracts are clear and well-established in the bidding process and upon award of a contract. Federal contractors and subcontractors must comply with these terms and pay their workers proper prevailing wages and benefits,” said Sandra Sanders, director of the division’s Nashville District Office, which conducted the investigation. “The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used properly by companies performing work for the federal government and, as demonstrated by the resolution of this case, we will vigorously pursue violators to ensure compliance and accountability under the law.”
The employer has agreed to future compliance with the SCA and the FLSA, as well as to pay all back wages and fringe benefits found due.
The SCA requires that contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal contracts in excess of $2,500 must pay their service workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the locality, or rates contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement. The FLSA requires employers to keep accurate records of employees’ hours, pay and other working conditions, and to pay at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates 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.
The division’s Nashville office can be reached at 615-781-5343. Information on the FLSA and other wage laws is available by calling the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or by visiting http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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