U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Cell Phone Retailer Paying $130,781 in Back Wages and Damages to 102 Employees in Three States
NOLENSVILLE, TN – Elite Wireless Inc., headquartered in Nolensville, Tennessee, will pay $130,781 in back wages and liquidated damages to 102 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found the employer violated minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). WHD also assessed the retailer a civil money penalty of $41,065 for willful and repeat violations.
WHD investigated the cellular phone and computer retailer's nine locations in Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina, and determined that the employer paid some employees weekly salaries that failed to cover all of the hours they worked at $7.25 per hour, in violation of the FLSA's minimum wage requirements. The retailer also paid overtime-eligible assistant managers flat salaries, without regard to the number of hours that they worked. This practice resulted in overtime violations when these employees worked more than 40 hours per week yet were not paid overtime in addition to their salaries. Additional overtime violations resulted when Elite Wireless Inc. failed to include earned commissions in workers' rates when computing their overtime pay, instead erroneously basing overtime only on employees' base rates. Recordkeeping violations were cited when the employer failed to maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked.
"Employers must understand their obligations and responsibilities under the law. Simply because a pay practice may appear to be common in a particular industry does not in any way mean that it complies with the law," said Nettie Lewis, Wage and Hour Division District Director in Nashville. "We encourage all employers to make use of the many tools we provide to help them understand and comply with the law, and to call us for assistance"
Elite Wireless Inc. operates stores in Franklin, Lebanon, Nashville, Knoxville, and Clarksville, Tennessee; Lexington and Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Jacksonville, North Carolina. At the time of the investigation, the employer was an authorized retailer of AT&T phones and other AT&T products and accessories.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.