News Release

Break failures: Global security provider to pay nearly $1.1M in back wages, damages to 778 workers after wrongly deducting meal breaks not taken

Affected security workers assigned to protect Amazon’s Seattle headquarters

SEATTLE  A federal investigation into employees working off-the-clock during meal breaks by one of the world’s largest security and facility services providers led to the recovery of nearly $1.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages for 778 employees and a nationwide enhanced agreement to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and recordkeeping provisions.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found Universal Protection Service LP – operating as Allied Universal Security Services – deducted 45 minutes from employees’ workdays automatically but often required security workers to remain at their posts for all or some of the meal breaks. Division investigators learned the employer failed to make proper adjustments to employees’ hours when they worked during these breaks, which violated federal overtime and recordkeeping regulations. 

At the time of the investigation, the employer had assigned the affected employees to work on site at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. 

The division recovered $549,947 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for the employees. The department also assessed Allied Universal Security Services $50,000 in civil money penalties. In the past five years, the division has investigated this employer approximately 200 times at locations nationwide and found the company violated FLSA requirements in most cases. 

“As one of the nation’s largest private-sector employers, Allied Universal Security Services has a responsibility to make sure they pay their employees all of their legally earned wages,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Silva in Seattle. “Our investigation found the company made improper deductions from security employees’ work hours for meal breaks when, in fact, the employer often told them to remain at their posts or to work during these breaks.”

After a separate investigation by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs into hiring practices at one of the company’s Houston locations from 2016 through 2017, the employer agreed to pay $411,000 in back wages to 1,459 Black applicants to resolve alleged systemic racial hiring discrimination. 

Founded in 1957 as Allied Security, Allied Universal now operates in about 90 countries and employs about 800,000 people globally. The company has corporate headquarters in Irvine, California; and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania; and provides security personnel, monitoring equipment, response units and secure prisoner transportation. 

In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $3.9 million in back wages for more than 4,600 workers in the guard services industry. 

Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including its search tool to learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish.

Wage and Hour Division
October 20, 2023
Release Number
Media Contact: Michael Petersen
Media Contact: Jose Carnevali
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