US Department of Labor obtains preliminary injunction restraining Massachusetts contractor from retaliating against employees
BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts prohibiting a Canton contractor from retaliating against former and current employees who cooperate with the department’s Wage and Hour Division investigation or engage in other activity protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The division informed Capone Bros. Inc. and owner Charles Capone that its investigation determined that the defendants and related entities owe their employees unpaid overtime back wages to which the workers are entitled under the FLSA.
According to the department’s complaint, Capone then allegedly:
- Threatened to “go after” a former employee he suspected of being in some way responsible for the investigation.
- Subsequently contacted the former employee’s new employer and made false accusations about her.
- Forced other employees either to disclose being a Department of Labor informant or to state that they worked fewer overtime hours than determined by the division’s investigation.
Due to the potential for ongoing retaliation by the defendants, the department sought and obtained the preliminary injunction . It prohibits the defendants from retaliating or discriminating against any current or former employee for filing a complaint, instituting or causing to be instituted any FLSA proceeding or testifying or being about to testify in any such proceeding. The preliminary injunction also requires the defendants to post and provide employees with a notice of their FLSA rights.
The department’s underlying suit against the defendants seeks an order permanently preventing the defendants from violating the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provisions and an order awarding punitive damages to affected employees.
“Threats by an employer clearly discourage workers from speaking up when their rights have been violated, or simply when they have questions about their pay,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston. “The more vulnerable the worker, the more these threats intimidate. The law is clear in its prohibition of this sort of behavior by an employer, and in its protections for employees who cooperate with the Department of Labor during an investigation. We remain committed to workers feeling confident using their voices without fear of retaliation.”
“Threatening to ‘go after’ an employee or otherwise punish workers for cooperating with a government investigation is illegal and unacceptable. We obtained this preliminary injunction to prevent egregious behavior like this from continuing during the litigation,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “Effective enforcement of the FLSA depends on workers feeling safe asserting their rights. As we did in this case, we will take swift legal action to ensure that employers do not retaliate and that employees are protected when they assert their rights under the FLSA.”
The division’s Boston District Office conducted the original investigation. The department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston is litigating the case.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Walsh v. Capone Bros., Inc. and Charles L. Capone
Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-10585-FDS