Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Fort Collins, Colo., nursery agrees to pay more than $127,000 in unpaid overtime wages following US Department of Labor investigation
Harmony Gardens Inc. erroneously claimed agricultural employer exemption
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Harmony Gardens Inc. has agreed to pay 72 employees $127,301 in back wages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. The firm incorrectly claimed an exemption from the overtime provisions of the FLSA. The investigation, conducted by the division’s Denver District Office, found that Harmony Gardens violated the FLSA when it paid its workers straight time for all hours worked and did not pay the additional overtime premium for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Additionally, the company failed to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
“Employers are responsible for learning about the laws that apply to their businesses. Not paying legally required overtime hurts workers, their families and their communities,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Nursery employees who handle only products grown at the nursery are generally exempt from FLSA overtime requirements. However, nursery employees who handle agricultural products grown elsewhere are generally entitled to overtime compensation at time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.”
Harmony Gardens works with suppliers nationwide to bring in a wide range of plant material for customers, which they do not grow themselves; therefore, the exemption from the overtime requirements does not apply. The employer has agreed to comply with all applicable FLSA provisions in the future. The payment of back wages is ongoing. For more information about agricultural employers under the FLSA, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs12.pdf.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Workers who are not employed in agriculture and not otherwise exempt from overtime compensation are entitled to time and one-half their regular rates of pay for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Denver office at 720-264-3250. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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