US Department of Labor obtains court order preventing federal contractor from retaliating against, intimidating workers on Maryland projects
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The U.S. Department of Labor obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit a federal contractor and its owners from retaliating against former and current employees who cooperate with an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division.
The division’s probe of the pay practices of JAG Contractors Inc. in Alexandria, and owner Jose Guzman began in February 2022. The company was contracted to build two federally funded projects in Maryland: the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research at Fort Detrick in Frederick, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services site in Windsor Mill.
Investigators determined the company and its owners failed to pay workers on the projects all wages as required for all hours worked in violation of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. They also learned that JAG either terminated or reassigned employees who complained to the employer’s management about their illegal pay practices or who cooperated with the investigation, from working on the company’s federal projects.
In addition, investigators discovered JAG attempted to obstruct the investigation by falsifying documents, making intimidating statements about workers’ immigration status, and directing employees not to report to work on the day investigators interviewed employees.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the department’s suit against JAG Contractors Inc. and its owner seeks an order that permanently prevents them from violating the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provisions or engaging in other activity protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“Workers have the legal right to question their employer’s pay practices, submit a complaint and to take part in a federal investigation without fear of reprisal,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Alfonso J. Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “When there are doubts about an employer’s compliance with federal wage and hour laws, we will intervene to ensure that employers respect their workers and their rights.”
Given the potential for ongoing retaliation by the employers, the department obtained the preliminary injunction. By court order, JAG Contractors Inc. and its owner cannot retaliate or discriminate against any current or former employee who files a complaint, sets any FLSA proceeding in motion, or who testifies or is waiting to testify in any proceeding. The employer must also post and provide employees with a notice of their FLSA rights.
“Workers must be able to come forward and share their concerns about their pay without fearing that their employers will take actions against them,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia.
“The Department of Labor’s ability to investigate and enforce federal wage and hours depends on the willingness of workers to speak freely. We will take swift action against those employers who seek to prevent and punish employees who exercise their rights.”
The division’s district office in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania conducted the original investigation. The department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in Philadelphia is litigating the case.
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. The division protects workers regardless of immigration status and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App, now available for android devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.