Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department recovers nearly $47,000 in back wages for 74 employees of Lubbock, Texas-based lawn care company
Workers misclassified as independent contractors
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Paradise Yards LLC, doing business as Paradise Lawns in Lubbock, has paid $46,961 to 74 current and former lawn care employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.
The Wage and Hour Division’s Albuquerque District Office found that the employer had misclassified employees as independent contractors rather than as regular employees. As a result, employees were “straight time” for all hours worked rather than time and one-half their regular rates for hours over 40 in a week, as required by the FLSA. Additionally, the company failed to keep accurate time and payroll records.
“Workers in the lawn care industry are among some of the most vulnerable in the workforce,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “On average, the employees in this case worked more than 60 hours in a week without receiving time and one-half their regular rates of pay for the hours over 40. This practice is illegal and unacceptable.”
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 leveling the playing field for employers that play by the rules. For more information, visit the department’s Misclassification Initiative website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/workers/Misclassification/index.htm.
The company has agreed to fully comply with the FLSA in the future. The back wages owed have been paid in full.
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.
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) or the division’s Albuquerque District Office at 505-248-6100. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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