Federal court enters consent judgment permanently enjoining Massachusetts contractor from employee retaliation
BOSTON – The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has entered a consent judgment and order enjoining a Canton contractor and his business permanently from retaliating against workers who cooperate with U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigations and otherwise exercise their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court also ordered Capone Bros. Inc. and Charles L. Capone to pay $75,000 in punitive damages to current and former workers.
The order prohibits the defendants from harassing, intimidating or threatening any current or former employees for the purposes of inhibiting their FLSA rights, asking any current or former employee if they have or will communicate with the Wage and Hour Division and obstructing or interfering with any FLSA investigations by the division.
In April 2021, the department sought and obtained a preliminary injunction against the defendants after they allegedly threatened to “go after” a former employee they suspected of being responsible for a Wage and Hour Division investigation, and made false accusations about the former employee to a new employer. The department also alleged the defendants forced other employees to disclose if they cooperated with division investigators or to state they worked fewer overtime hours than determined by the division’s investigation.
In August 2021, in related litigation, the department secured a consent judgment and order requiring Capone and three of his companies – Capone Bros. Inc., Capco Equipment Corp. and American Earth Products – to pay a total of $310,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 19 employees to resolve violations of the FLSA’s overtime provisions.
“The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate obstruction of our investigations and acts of retaliation against employees because they assert their rights. This case, resulting in $310,000 in back wages and liquidated damages as well as $75,000 in punitive damages, sends a clear message to employers that we will not allow employees who cooperate with us to be harassed or threatened. Retaliation is a priority and will be pursued vigorously by the division,” said Wage and Hour’s Northeast Regional Administrator Mark Watson in Philadelphia.
“As we did in this case, the U.S. Department of Labor will take swift legal action and litigate aggressively against employers that harass or intimidate employees who exercise their rights or otherwise cooperate with a department investigation. The department will seek to secure preliminary and permanent injunctions against retaliation as well as punitive damages for affected workers when employers disregard the law and employees’ rights,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, 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. 21-cv-10585