U.S. Labor Department Investigation Results in Colorado Company Paying Back Wages, Damages For Wage Violations in Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH, PA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Huwa Enterprises – an environmental restoration company based in Keenesburg, Colorado – paid $9,174 in back wages, and an equal amount in liquidated damages for violating the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) while performing reclamation services on pipelines in western Pennsylvania.
Investigators determined that – from December 28, 2015 to December 18, 2017 – Huwa Enterprises, doing business as Arnold’s Custom Seeding, was a subcontractor that provided reclamation services for newly installed, or replaced pipelines. Overtime violations occurred when the employer paid employees bonuses labeled as a “per diem” payment regardless of the employees’ travel status or distance from home to the worksite. For employees who did not have to travel to the job and had incurred no travel expenses, these payments did not constitute reimbursement and should have been included in the calculation when the employer determined overtime rates for these employees. Excluding these bonus payments resulted in the payment of overtime rates lower than those the law requires.
“The FLSA requires employers to calculate overtime pay accurately so employees are properly paid, and so that all employers compete on a level playing field,” said Wage and Hour Division District Office Director John DuMont, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The results of this investigation should encourage other employers in this industry to examine their payroll practices to ensure they comply with the law. We encourage employers to reach out to us with questions, and to use the many tools we provide to explain their responsibilities.”
The counties in Pennsylvania in which the company performed this work included Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all the hours that they work, plus time and one half their regular rates, including commissions, non-discretionary bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
WHD is committed to providing employers with the tools they need to assist them in fulfilling their obligation to understand and comply with the variety of laws the Division enforces. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program.
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.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.