U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Federal Court Ordering Commercial Laundry to Pay $266,670 in Back Wages, Damages
LANDSDOWNE, PA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Central Laundry Inc. – based in Landsdowne, Pennsylvania – and its owner George Rengepes and business operator Jimmy Rengepes must pay $133,335 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 32 employees to remedy violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has granted, in part, a motion by the U.S. Department of Labor for summary judgment against Central Laundry Inc. U.S. District Judge Wendy J. Beetlestone concluded that the defendants – doing business as Olympic Linen and Liberty Laundry – willfully violated the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA. WHD investigators found the employers repeatedly bounced payroll checks, paid some employees at rates below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, paid some employees straight time in cash for more than 40 hours worked in a workweek, and failed to keep FLSA-required records.
Judge Beetlestone also permanently enjoined the defendants from future minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping FLSA violations.
"The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division will hold accountable employers that deliberately circumvent the requirements of the law," said Wage and Hour Division District Director James Cain, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"The defendants knew what the Fair Labor Standards Act required of them, yet they intentionally disregarded and violated those requirements repeatedly. In doing so, they not only deprived their employees of their hard-earned wages, they also undercut those competitors that choose to obey the law," said Adam Welsh, Counsel for Wage and Hour in the Philadelphia Regional Solicitor's Office.
Separately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a decision on October 1, 2019, regarding a previous action the Secretary of Labor had brought against Central Laundry for similar violations. In that case, the district court had awarded $478,539 to 20 employees, less than the amount the Secretary had sought. The Secretary appealed, arguing that the employer owed back wages to additional workers. The court found that 13 additional long-tenured laundry workers identified in employee testimony and Central Laundry's time records should have been included in the judgment.
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
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.
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.