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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [10/17/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-1987-DAL

Landscapers employed by Texas company to receive nearly $107,000 in minimum, overtime back wages following US Labor Department investigation

MIDLAND, Texas — Turf Specialties Inc. has agreed to pay $106,818 in back wages to 70 current and former landscape workers following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum and overtime provisions.

"Workers in the landscaping industry are among the most vulnerable in the workforce," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "The Labor Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the law to ensure that all workers are paid for all hours worked, including any overtime compensation due."

Investigators from the division's Lubbock Area Office found that the employees were paid a fixed, biweekly salary that in many workweeks amounted to less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Turf Specialties failed to compensate employees at time and one-half their regular rates of pay for overtime hours, that is, those worked over 40 in a workweek. Additional minimum wage and overtime violations occurred when the employer made improper deductions from employees' paychecks for uniforms, broken tools and equipment damage. Investigators also found that several employees working as "crew leaders" were improperly classified as exempt from the FLSA's overtime provision and consequently denied proper overtime compensation.

Turf Specialties, located on East Highway 80, provides residential and commercial landscaping services in the Greater Odessa and Midland areas. The company cooperated with the investigation. In addition to agreeing to pay all back wages due to the affected workers, the company committed to maintaining future compliance with the FLSA by ensuring that employees are properly classified and compensated for all hours worked.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's Albuquerque District Office at 505-248-6100. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.