U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Federal Court Ordering West Virginia Company to Pay $3.7 Million in Back Wages and Damages
MILLWOOD, WV - After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has ordered Team Environmental LLC – a natural gas pipeline construction management company based in Millwood, West Virginia – to pay 300 safety inspectors $1,850,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD investigators found that - from October 20, 2012, to May 8, 2015 - Team Environmental LLC paid its inspectors day rates for all the hours that they worked but failed to pay employees overtime when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. While the employer argued that the manner in which they paid employees was "industry practice," WHD found their practices violated the FLSA.
"Team Environmental LLC's practices resulted in their employees taking home less money than they had legally earned," said Wage and Hour District Director John DuMont, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Other employers should use this as an opportunity to evaluate their own pay practices using the many tools we provide to ensure that they comply with federal labor law. Costly violations like those in this case can be avoided."
In addition to paying the back wages and damages, the company is enjoined from violating provisions of the FLSA in the future.
"As the Court correctly concluded, industry practice does not relieve an employer from obligations to comply with the FLSA," said Associate Regional Solicitor Samantha N. Thomas in Arlington, Virginia. "Employees are entitled to their full wages for all the hours that they work, including overtime. This consent judgment helps to level the playing field for employers that abide by the law and encourage FLSA compliance in this industry."
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 for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records. For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program.