U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Federal Court Requiring West Virginia Consulting Firm to Pay $1,635,804 in Back Wages and Damages
BRIDGEPORT, WV – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), a federal appeals court affirmed a district court judgment requiring Fire & Safety Investigation Consulting Services LLC – based in Bridgeport, West Virginia – to pay $817,902 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 70 employees.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District upheld a May 2018 summary judgment granted by the Northern District of West Virginia that ruled that Fire & Safety Investigation Consulting Services LLC, and owner Christopher Harris, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD investigators found the employer failed to pay employees an overtime premium when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Instead, the employer paid employees what they referred to as a "hitch rate," a fixed amount paid every two weeks. This practice resulted in overtime violations when employees worked beyond 40 hours in a single workweek and the employer failed to pay overtime in addition to their flat rates. The employer also violated FLSA recordkeeping requirements by failing to maintain records of the number of hours employees worked.
"Employers must pay their employees all the wages they legally earned. We urge all employers to make use of the many tools the U.S. Department of Labor provides to help them understand and comply with the law, and to call us for assistance," said Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"These violations are common in the oil and gas industry and remind other employers that they must comply with the law," said Regional Solicitor Oscar Hampton III, in Philadelphia.
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.