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News Brief

Labor Department sues North Carolina employer for retaliating against workers paid back wages in earlier wage investigation

Makin’ Choices Inc. demanded workers return back wages or have pay reduced

Employer name: Makin’ Choices Inc.

Investigation site: 2000 Chapel Hill Road, #23, Durham, North Carolina 27707

Investigation findings: Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Makin’ Choices and its owner, Rachelle Brooks-Blue and manager Lamont Adams, violated the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Specifically, the department alleges that the employer demanded two workers return back wage payments they received from an earlier division investigation. As a result of the earlier investigation, the employer entered into a settlement and compliance agreement to pay over $100,000 for overtime and minimum wage violations. Employed as habilitation specialists, the workers refused to return the back wage payments and the employer reduced their pay to recover the money. The demand to return the back wages and reduction in pay violate the anti-retaliation provisions of the FLSA.

Resolution: On Aug. 17, 2016, the department filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Durham Division, against Makin’ Choices Inc., its owner and its manager. The agency is seeking to compel the employers to pay the two employees, who were retaliated against, back wages and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages. When conducting the investigation regarding retaliation, the agency discovered that the employers continued to violate of FLSA overtime regulations. These new violations resulted in four employees, including the two employees retaliated against, being due overtime back wages and liquidated damages.

The division’s Raleigh District Office conducted the investigation and the department’s Atlanta Regional Office of the Solicitor is litigating the case.

Quote: “We look forward to helping these workers find justice and will continue to protect the rights of all workers to speak up,” said Wayne Kotowski, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta. “Employers must understand they cannot retaliate against an employee who has been wronged. We will continue to use every tool we have to make that clear. Shorting workers once is bad enough, but we simply will not tolerate attempts to retaliate after we’ve stepped in to recover the wages they’ve worked so hard to earn.”  

Based in Fayetteville, Makin’ Choices provides mental health and therapeutic support services. The employer also operates a facility in Durham.

The FLSA states that it is a violation for any person to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding, or has served or is about to serve on an industry committee.

Court: U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Durham Division

Case Number: 1:16-cv-01065

Wage and Hour Division
August 18, 2016
Release Number
Media Contact: Michael D'Aquino