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US Labor Department sues SoCal drywall company to recover back wages, damages for approximately 1,500 employees; halt chronic overtime violations
Type of Action: Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit filing
Name of Defendants: West Coast Drywall & Company Inc.
Mark D. Herbert
Complaint: The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against West Coast Drywall & Company, its chief executive officer and owner Mark D. Herbert, and the company’s chief operating officer Santos Garcia, after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division uncovered that the employer violated, and continues to violate, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The division already investigated West Coast Drywall & Company in 2012. That investigation determined that the employer failed to pay overtime to drywall employees and painters, resulting in $9,115 in back wages due to 101 employees. The employer agreed to make all necessary changes to comply with the FLSA.
The latest investigation revealed that the Riverside-based drywall installation and painting employer again failed to pay workers time and one-half their regular hourly rates for all the hours they worked beyond 40 in a workweek, which they did routinely. Supervisors regularly told employees to falsify timecards to reflect no more than 40 hours when, in fact, they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. In addition, investigators found the company asked some workers to sign untrue statements – once the investigation was underway – claiming their employer always paid properly for overtime.
Resolution: The department seeks a judgment ordering the employer to pay the overtime back wages due and an additional, equal amount of damages to the workers. The complaint also asks the court to enjoin the company and its officers from violating the FLSA in the future.
Quote: “Unfortunately, West Coast Drywall chose to ignore our guidance after our investigation in 2012,” said Gayane Aleksanian, assistant district director of the Wage and Hour Division in West Covina. “The company left us no choice but to take legal action to make sure that their workers receive their hard-earned wages. We’re sending a clear message that compliance is not optional, and that the division will use every enforcement tool we have to protect not only workers, but other employers who play by the rules.”
Background: West Coast Drywall & Company provides services to a number of builders, including Lennar Homes, Shea Homes, KB Homes, Standard Pacific and HR Horton.
Information: The department filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on July 18. The department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in Los Angeles is litigating the case.
The FLSA requires that covered, non-exempt 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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records, and are prohibited from retaliating against workers who exercise their rights under the law.
For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, or to file a complaint, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). All services are free and confidential. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
Read this news brief in Spanish.