Bay State fish processors agree to consent judgment, pay employees damages
BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has secured a consent judgment in federal court ordering two Gloucester-based fish processors – Zeus Packing Inc. and Cape Ann Seafood Exchange Inc. – and the companies’ owner Kristian Kristensen to pay over $200,000 in liquidated damages to more than 100 employees to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found the defendants violated the FLSA’s overtime and recordkeeping requirements from October 2011 through September 2014, and owed 132 employees $203,998 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The companies and Kristensen paid the back wages in December 2015, but refused to pay the damages and civil money penalties assessed for the violations. As a result, the department filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in March 2016 to recover those amounts. After almost a year of litigation and negotiation, the defendants agreed to settle the matter by consent judgment.
In addition to requiring payment of $203,998 in liquidated damages covering the investigative period, the judgment also orders the defendants to pay $7,215 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to the employees, on account of violations committed after the close of the investigation, and $29,500 in civil money penalties to the department. The judgment also restrains the defendants from future violations of the FLSA’s overtime and recordkeeping requirements.
“Employers are best served by recognizing that, as a general rule, if they fail to pay workers the proper minimum wage and overtime pay, they will be liable to pay double,” said Michael Felsen, regional solicitor for New England. “As this case demonstrates, the department takes that employer responsibility under the law seriously.”
“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to providing companies with the tools they need to understand and comply with a variety of labor laws,” said Mark Watson, the division’s northeast regional director.
The division offers useful resources ranging from an interactive Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses advisor to a complete library of free, downloadable workplace posters. Information is available in a variety of languages. In addition, the division’s Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialists conduct ongoing outreach activities to educate businesses, professional associations, labor groups and others with easy-to-understand information about rights and responsibilities.
The division’s Boston District Office conducted the original investigation. Attorneys James Glickman and Sheila Gholkar litigated the case for the department.
For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the agency's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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Hugler v. Zeus Packing Inc., Cape Ann Seafood Exchange Inc. and Kristian Kristensen
Civil Action Number: 16-10442-DPW