Published Date: 03/24/2014
By George Ports
The US Department of Labor (DOL) has obtained a consent judgment in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts that orders Ward’s Cleaning Service Inc. and its owner/president, to pay $1,033,877 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages to 149 low-wage employees. The defendants, who provide night cleaning crews, housekeepers and dishwashers to about 85 hotels and restaurants in the Boston area, will also pay $163,900 in civil money penalties and make changes to their payroll system.
DOL Wage and Hour Division investigators discovered that from July 2009 through December 2012 the defendants violated the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They failed to pay overtime to the employees who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and they concealed nonpayment of overtime through practices like directing employees to use multiple timecards with different names, altering timecards, paying employees with checks made out to false names and paying employees in cash.
The terms of the judgment specify that the defendants will hire a qualified independent consultant with specific knowledge of the FLSA to create a payroll system that will ensure that their payroll and recordkeeping practices comply with the law. The company will submit quarterly reports to the Wage and Hour Division addressing all pay and recordkeeping problems found and the actions taken to correct those problems. In addition, the judgment prohibits the defendants from committing future FLSA violations and forbids them from soliciting repayment of the wages and damages from any of the affected employees.
For more information about the FLSA and DOL Wage and Hour Division, go to http://www.dol.gov/whd.