U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in South Carolina Retailer Paying $66,410 in Back Wages and Damages for Wage Violations
COLUMBIA, SC – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Planet Vapor Inc. – an enterprise with five retail stores and a combined laboratory warehouse operating in Columbia, Lexington, West Columbia, and Irmo, South Carolina – has paid $66,410 in back wages and liquidated damages to 20 employees for violating the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD investigated Planet Vapor Inc. – operating as Planet Vapor – and found the employer paid some store managers a flat weekly salary that, when divided by the number of hours they worked, failed to cover those hours at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The retailer also inaccurately classified managers and lab employees as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA when none met the requirements for exemption and paid them straight-time for all the hours that they worked. This practice resulted in overtime violations when employees worked more than 40 hours per week without overtime payment. Investigators also determined the employer failed to include commissions and bonuses in some employees’ regular rates of pay when calculating their overtime rates. This exclusion resulted in the employer paying overtime rates lower than those required by law. The employer also violated the recordkeeping requirements of the FLSA when it failed to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
“The U.S. Department of Labor remains committed to ensuring employees receive all the wages they have rightfully earned,” said Wage and Hour District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “Employers must be aware of their responsibilities under the law, make sure to calculate their employees’ pay correctly and apply any overtime exemptions accurately. We encourage employers to call us any time to speak directly with one of our trained professionals if they have questions, or to use the many tools we offer online to help them comply with the law, pay workers legally and avoid violations.”
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 confidential calls or in-person visits to local WHD offices.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the WHD, 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.