ATLANTA – Hotel industry workers typically earn low wages and may struggle financially to meet basic needs. When employers fail to pay them the wages they have legally earned, their struggle gets even harder.
To ensure these employees receive the hard-earned wages, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is conducting an ongoing education and enforcement initiative focusing on Georgia’s hotels and motels. The hotel industry often uses employment arrangements – such as subcontracting, franchising, and third-party management – that can obscure the worker-employer relationship, often at the expense of workers’ wages which may make violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act more likely. In fiscal years 2014 and 2015, the division’s Atlanta District Office completed more than 140 investigations in this sector, finding more than $283,000 in back wages due to more than 400 workers. The department also assessed more than $27,000 in civil money penalties against the employers for repeat or willful violations of the FLSA.
“This industry employs some of the most vulnerable workers we see,” said Eric Williams, director of the division’s Atlanta District Office. “Our initiative works to ensure that Georgia’s workers are protected against exploitation and that law-abiding hotel employers aren’t placed at a disadvantage for playing by the rules and paying fair wages. We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to make sure that happens.”
Pay practices commonly used by employers in this industry that can lead to violations of the FLSA are described in the department’s fact sheet on the hotel and motel industry.
In an education and enforcement initiative, the division reaches out to employers and industry stakeholders to offer compliance assistance and information on legal responsibilities. The division raises awareness among workers, community organizations and other stakeholders to inform them of federal wage and hour laws and protections and to encourage participation in promoting industry-wide compliance.
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers and the entire economy. Misclassified employees often are denied access to critical benefits and protections – such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance – to which they are entitled. Employee misclassification generates substantial losses to the U.S. Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds. Misclassification also creates a competitive disadvantage for employers who comply with the law.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records and to comply with the hours worked requirements. For more information about the FLSA and wage laws or to file a complaint, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), the Atlanta District Office at 678-237-0521, or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.