Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.
Date: Feb. 18, 2015
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald or Andre J. Bowser
Phone: 617-565-2075 617-565-2074
U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 15-139-BOS
Chang & Sons Enterprises Inc. continues to cheat workers, US Labor Department investigation reveals
Reinspection leads to court order for back wages, damages, penalties and monitoring
BOSTON -- A follow-up investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found that Whately agribusiness Chang & Sons Enterprises Inc., and its owner Sidney Chang, continue to deny workers the wages they have legally earned, despite prior investigations and a legal judgment requiring the employer to pay back wages and comply with federal wage and hour laws.
In 2013, the company paid $305,500 in back wages and liquidated damages to 14 workers for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. A recent follow-up investigation revealed additional minimum wage violations, resulting in another $73,535 in back wages and liquidated damages due to six employees. The new consent judgment requires that the employer hire a qualified, independent consultant who will monitor the firm’s compliance with the FLSA and provide the Wage and Hour Division with quarterly reports for the next three years. The employer has paid the most recent back wages, damages and penalties in full.
The Wage and Hour Division’s follow-up investigation found that some employees were paid in cash, usually $5 per hour, while working in the berry harvest. In light of the repeated violations, the defendants, whose business grows, harvests, packages and distributes bean sprouts and other agricultural products, will also pay $8,250 in civil money penalties.
“The Wage and Hour Division does reinvestigate employers to confirm that they are paying their employees the wages they have rightfully earned,” said Carlos Matos, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Boston. “Chang & Sons Enterprises’ repeated disregard for the law and workers’ rights is inexcusable. Aware of the obligation to pay the minimum wage as the result of our prior investigations and enforcement actions, it chose to continue to pay a number of these employees only $5 per hour, far less than what the law requires.”
“Employers’ actions have consequences. We will not hesitate to use enhanced compliance procedures to help ensure that employers comply with the law. We will seek liquidated damages and civil money penalties when employers flout the law,” said Michael Felsen, the regional solicitor of labor for New England, whose office litigated the case.
The Wage and Hour Division enforces labor laws to protect employees, employers and American taxpayers, to provide a level playing field for employers, and to ensure fair wages and safe working environments for employees. Such protections help to support ladders of opportunity, igniting economic engines to grow a strong middle class.
When employees are denied their hard-earned income, the Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that the money ends up in the hands of those who worked for money that will be spent on rent, transportation and to put food on the table. Since the beginning of 2009, the agency has concluded investigations nationwide resulting in more than $1.3 billion dollars in back wages for more than 1.5 million workers.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Nonagricultural and other nonexempt employees are entitled to time and one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
For more information on the FLSA, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Boston office at 617-624-6700. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.