Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Florida’s hotel and motel industry is rife with labor violations
Investigations recover more than $244K in back wages for 800 employees
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida hotel and motel workers struggle to live on low wages and often lack critical benefits like sick leave. Their lives are made harder when their employer refuses to pay them for all hours worked or for overtime premiums when employees’ hours exceed 40 hours in a week. To combat the situation, the Jacksonville District Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division mounted an enforcement initiative in 2013 to investigate hotels, motels and temporary staffing agencies. To date, the division has completed 96 investigations and recovered $244,126 in back wages for 800 employees.
“The hotel and motel industry uses employment arrangements, such as subcontracting, franchising, third-party management and other practices, that obscure the worker-employer relationship and lead to downward pressure on costs, often at the expense of worker wages,” said Daniel White, district director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Jacksonville District Office. “Our ongoing enforcement initiative has successfully identified and remedied systemic labor violations in this industry. We intend to ensure that Florida’s workers are protected against exploitation and that law-abiding hotel and motel employers don’t suffer financially for playing by the rules and paying fair wages.”
The division named staffing companies First Class Hospitality Inc. and Uniclass Management LLC as major violators. Investigators found that these companies provided labor to client hotels and motels, but incorrectly classified these employees as independent contractors and denied them full wages, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Many employees were paid on a per-room basis or straight-time wages, without regard to minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Investigations disclosed that both companies also failed to have a Family and Medical Leave Act policy.
In response to the investigations, the two companies committed to resolve the labor violations and agreed to pay a total of $87,091 in back wages to 247 affected workers. First Class Hospitality provided staffing services to Clarion Suites Maingate, The Palms Hotel and Villas, and Saratoga Resort Villas. Uniclass Management LLC provided staffing services to Fairfield Inn Orlando Airport, Hilton Garden Inn, Residence Inn and Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel.
The Wage and Hour Division is documenting the structure and complexity of employment relationships to target enforcement efforts and ensure accountability throughout all sectors of the hotel and motel industry. When the division finds violations, it utilizes appropriate tools, such as litigation, penalty assessments, liquidated damages and joint employment liabilities, to hold companies accountable and ensure lawful compliance.
Under the initiative, the division works with employers and industry stakeholders, such as the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and local payroll professionals, to provide compliance assistance and information on legal responsibilities. The division also is raising awareness among workers, community organizations and other stakeholders to inform them of federal wage and hour laws and protections and to encourage participation in promoting industrywide compliance.
The FLSA, which the Wage and Hour Division enforces, requires that covered garment and other workers be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. To see resources on FLSA compliance in the hotel and motel industry, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs45.htm.
For more information about federal wage laws, or to file a complaint, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Los Angeles District Office at 213-894-6375. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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