Federal court orders Delaware landscaper to pay $50K in liquidated damages after US Labor Department investigation, litigation
LEWES, DE – Following litigation initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor, a federal court ordered a Delaware landscaping company and its owner to pay $50,622 in liquidated damages to 10 temporary workers.
The decision follows a Wage and Hour Division investigation and jury verdict that determined the employer must also pay the workers the same amount in overtime back wages for Fair Labor Standards Act violations.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ordered DeVilbiss Landscape Architects Inc., which operates as DeVilbiss Landscape Architects, and owner and company president Paul DeVilbiss to pay the liquidated damages, which are intended to compensate workers for damages they incurred as the result of not having been paid timely for all the wages they legally earned.
The court issued an opinion on March 28, 2022, following a jury trial that was held from June 30, 2021 to July 2, 2021. During that trial, a jury found that employers violated the FLSA, that Paul DeVilbiss was an employer properly held liable under the FLSA, and that they were liable for $50,622.54 in back wages. In its recent opinion the court found the employers had failed to meet their burden of proving they had a good faith belief that they complied with the law. As a result, the court ordered the employers to pay $50,622.64 in liquidated damages in addition to the overtime back pay the jury awarded.
The division’s investigation and subsequent litigation found that the employer violated the FLSA when they failed to pay overtime for hours more than 40 in a workweek. The jury rejected the company’s argument that its employees were agricultural workers exempt from FLSA protections. DeVilbiss actually operated a landscaping company, not a farm, and its workers were entitled to overtime under the FLSA.
“Employers are legally obligated to comply with federal laws. This means they must ensure workers are paid all of their hard-earned wages, and the requirements of the worker visa program are followed,” said Wage and Hour District Director James Cain in Philadelphia. “We encourage all employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division with any questions to prevent violations like the ones in this case.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor vigorously pursued legal action to ensure DeVilbiss’ employees were properly compensated as required by the law. The department will continue to pursue litigation as deemed appropriate when employers fail to comply with the FLSA overtime requirements,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia.
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.