New Hampshire chimney services contractor pays $26K to settle allegations of retaliation, interference with federal investigation of pay practices
MANCHESTER, NH – A Manchester chimney services contractor has paid a total of $26,163 to three workers to resolve allegations that the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s anti-retaliation provisions enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Division investigators found Ceaser Chimney Service Inc. fired an employee in June 2021 after they contacted the New Hampshire Department of Labor to inquire about their rights under the labor laws. The employer also unlawfully questioned two other employees regarding their communications with the Wage and Hour Division during its investigation. Anti-retaliation provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibit employers from discharging an employee or discriminating against an employee who engages in protected activity, including filing a complaint, participating in an investigation, or even simply asking questions about their wages.
“The U.S. Department of Labor takes allegations of employee retaliation very seriously. Federal law protects workers’ ability to exercise their rights freely without fear of reprisals,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. “These rights include the ability to contact the department and other agencies about the employer’s pay practices and to speak openly with investigators and other department officials during an investigation.”
Per the settlement agreement, Ceaser Chimney Inc. has done the following:
- Paid the terminated employee a total of $21,163, which includes $2,463 in back pay for time they were unemployed after the termination, $8,700 in front pay and $10,000 in punitive damages.
- Paid the other employees punitive damages totaling $5,000, or $2,500 each.
- Agreed not to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because they filed a complaint, testified, or participated in any FLSA investigation or proceeding or has asserted any right guaranteed by the FLSA.
- Agreed to provide all current and future employees with a written statement of their FLSA rights for a five-year period.
“The division will continue to enforce these protections vigorously and make it clear – as Ceaser Chimney Inc. has learned – that retaliation against workers has costly consequences. The Wage and Hour Division encourages workers and employers in northern New England to contact the Manchester District Office to learn more about their respective rights and responsibilities under federal law,” added McKinney.
The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers confidentially in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).