U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Recovers $541,597 in Wages for Workers with Disabilities at Alabama Facilities
MONTGOMERY, AL – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the Montgomery Arc and two of its subsidiaries – Hanan Center and McInnis Recycling Center – will pay $541,597 in back wages to 80 employees for failing to meet the requirements of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). WHD also found that Hanan Center and McInnis Recycling Center violated requirements of Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Section 511 requires that individuals with disabilities receive career counseling, information and referral services from the state vocational rehabilitation agency and information about local opportunities for self-advocacy, self-determination and peer-mentoring training from the employer each year while working at subminimum wages under the FLSA’s Section 14(c). WHD found Hanan Center and McInnis Recycling Center failed to ensure workers were provided these services during subminimum wage employment. Investigators also determined the employers failed to conduct a prevailing wage survey and to adjust wage rates annually, as required. Failure to provide workers with disabilities the proper services each year negated the employers’ ability to pay subminimum wages that would otherwise have been allowed, resulting in WHD finding affected workers due the full federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
WHD also found the Montgomery, Alabama-based Montgomery Arc automatically deducted 30 minutes per day from employees’ work time for meal breaks, regardless of whether employees actually took those breaks. This practice resulted in violations when employees worked through their breaks but were not paid for that time. The employer also failed to maintain records of daily and weekly hours staff worked, as well as the number of hours worked by workers with disabilities, a FLSA recordkeeping violation.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all workers receive the wages legally due to them and to protecting workers with disabilities from exploitation in the workplace,” said Wage and Hour District Director Kenneth Stripling in Birmingham, Alabama. “We will continue to provide education and tools to employers to help them understand their responsibilities and how to comply with the law. Both Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act and FLSA Section 14(c) require some very specific actions by employers. We encourage them to reach out to their local Wage and Hour Division office to speak with a trained professional about any questions they may have, and to avoid violations.”
Section 14(c) of the FLSA is designed to offer more job opportunities for workers with disabilities when their disability affects their productive capacity for the work being performed. After applying for and receiving a certificate from WHD, the employer may determine their employees’ productivity and calculate the appropriate commensurate wage as a percentage of the rate for experienced employees performing similar jobs in the area.
For more information about the FLSA, Section 14(c) 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/agencies/whd.
The mission of WHD 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.