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US Labor Department obtains joint employment judgment ordering DirecTV to pay $395K in back wages and damages to 147 cable installers in Washington
Investigation findings: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found DirecTV, and Kent, Washington-based installation subcontractor Lantern Light Corp., doing business as Advanced Information Systems, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. Investigators found that DirecTV and Advance Information Systems paid employees on a piece-rate basis, which resulted in their hourly rates falling below the federal minimum wage. Installers were neither paid for all hours worked nor paid an overtime premium of one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, as required by the FLSA. Furthermore, the installers did not get paid for time spent on unsuccessful installations, for travel time, and for time in the office. They were not reimbursed for travel expenses either.
Resolution: DirecTV claimed that it was not the installers' employer and therefore not responsible for the violations found. The department's Regional Solicitor's office filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The suit alleged that DirecTV fissured the installers' employment relationship to try to avoid liability and responsibility for employment with DirecTV. The department established that the installers worked only on DirecTV installations, had all conditions of employment specified by DirecTV, drove DirecTV vans, and wore DirecTV clothing. In light of these and other facts, the Court ruled that DirecTV was an employer of the installers under the FLSA. As a joint employer of these installers, under the Court's ruling in May 2015, DirecTV was responsible for any violations of the FLSA that the installers suffered.
To prevent future violations and protect workers' rights to collect the back wages due, the Labor Department has obtained a consent judgment ordering DirecTV to pay $395,000 in back wages and damages to 147 employees. The judgment also orders DirecTV to comply with the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. DirecTV also must require its contractors to comply with the FLSA, require specific terms on travel reimbursements, and give all of its Washington installers a copy of the court's decision. The judgment also orders DirecTV to hire a monitor to report on the installers' employment conditions, and to conduct a nationwide review of its contractors' contracts to ensure FLSA compliance.
Quote: "Subcontracting labor does not absolve employers from labor compliance," said Janet Herold, the department's Regional Solicitor. "This ruling represents major victory for workers' rights in a landmark case against unacceptable fissuring practices used to avoid liability and responsibility in the workplace."
Information: 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/.