US Department of Labor obtains court order to stop New Jersey employer’s retaliation against workers who assert their wage rights
LYNDHURST, NJ – Week after week, a worker at Advantix Logistics Corp. kept finding paychecks short of their expectations. After several complaints to a supervisor, the company responded by firing the worker. When the worker raised concerns that the final paycheck did not include all wages earned, the company threatened continued retaliation.
An investigation of the Lyndhurst staffing agency by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Advantix attempted to dissuade workers from cooperating with investigators.
To address the employer’s egregious and obstructionist behavior, the department filed a complaint and obtained a temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The order:
- Enjoins Advantix and any related entities from retaliating against the affected employee as well as current and former employees who make complaints about their pay, speak with investigators or otherwise assert their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Enjoins Advantix and anyone acting on its behalf from taking any actions that would obstruct the division’s ongoing investigation of Advantix’s pay practices.
- Orders Advantix to notify the department in writing at least 7 days prior to any employee’s termination for any reason.
- Orders Advantix to allow U.S. Department of Labor representatives to read aloud in English, Spanish and any other language as necessary to be understood by Advantix’s employees a statement about the order and their FLSA rights.
The department’s complaint seeks a permanent order enjoining Advantix and those acting on its behalf from violating the FLSA by further retaliation, intimidation, harassment or other adverse action against employees who engage in protected activity. It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the fired employee.
“Threatening or firing employees who ask for proper pay is egregious and illegal retaliation,” said Regional Solicitor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York. “Effective enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act depends on employees’ ability to report their experiences without fear. In this case, the U.S. Department of Labor is seeking a restraining order to protect employees so they can cooperate with the department’s investigation and assert their rights under the law.”
“Retaliation or threats of retaliation can prevent employees from exercising their right to question their wages and their employers’ pay practices. It can also inhibit cooperation in good faith with an investigation and inhibit employees from engaging in activities protected by federal law,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey. “To prevent violations from occurring in the first place, we encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division to learn about their responsibilities under the law.”
The Wage and Hour Division’s Northern New Jersey District Office is conducting the investigation. Senior Trial Attorneys Jason Glick and Susan Jacobs of the Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York are litigating the case.
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 or have been retaliated against.