New Hampshire retailer pays $50,000 in punitive damages to worker terminated after asking for owed overtime wages
MANCHESTER, NH – A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation has determined Smokers Haven Inc. and owner Brett Scott violated the anti-retaliation, overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Concord based electronic cigarette retailer refused to pay a worker his rightfully earned overtime wages and then illegally terminated him, after he asked to be paid. Prior to the meeting with his employer, the worker contacted the Wage and Hour Division to discuss his overtime pay concerns.
As a result of the investigation, the employer has paid the affected worker $50,000 in punitive damages, $2,177 in back pay for his period between jobs after his illegal discharge and $1,348 in overtime wages. The employer has also paid four other employees $979 in overtime back wages.
The department filed a complaint and consent judgment with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. The resulting court order prohibits the defendants from future FLSA violations, including terminating or threating to terminate the employment of any employee who complains about wage-related issues or otherwise engages in protected activity under the FLSA.
“Employees have the right under the Fair Labor Standards Act to request payment of their hard-earned wages without fear of retaliation and termination,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. “The employer owed under $2,400 in overtime back wages, but must now pay $50,000 in punitive damages for unfairly punishing an employee who asked to be paid. We encourage employers and employees with questions about their respective responsibilities and rights to contact the Wage and Hour Division.”
“This case, resulting in $50,000 in punitive damages for prohibited retaliatory actions, sends a clear message to employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate reprisals against employees for asserting their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” 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, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.