The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor provides training to federal supply and service contractors and subcontractors. Topics covered include the agency’s equal employment opportunity laws and regulations. Federal contractors are subject to more stringent anti-discrimination regulations than other employers. In many cases, those regulations apply to all divisions of a company, not just those holding federal contracts. Most of the seminars are scheduled for a half day.
The Department of Labor takes a proactive approach in training employers, especially those with new federal contracts, in the requirements they face under the law.
The two firms, with headquarters in Duncan, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana, were subcontractors of CH2M Hill of Englewood, Colorado. L&R Security Inc. and HKA Enterprises Inc. have agreed to pay $941,537 in back pay to 382 current and former employees. The wages go to people employed as security guards and debris removal workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The investigation showed that both companies failed to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours per week. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, employees must be paid 1.5 times their usual hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours in a single week.
The U.S. Department of Labor also found that the two companies violated the Davis Bacon Acts and the CWHSSA by failing to pay the prevailing wage and provide prevailing fringe benefits to workers, as required of federal contractors.
“The department has made a concerted effort to ensure that workers involved in Hurricane Katrina recovery and cleanup know their rights and are paid all the wages they are owed,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “In this case, almost $1 million in back wages will be paid to nearly 400 workers.”
L&R Security, Inc. provided armed security guards at the Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer sites in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans-based company has agreed to pay $185,385 in back wages to 239 workers. In addition, the company will pay a penalty of $37,620 for repeat violations. According to sources, this is not the first time that the company has violated the federal minimum wage laws.
HKA Enterprises of Duncan, South Carolina provided staff to monitor the removal of debris in New Orleans under a FEMA contract held by CH2M Hill from early October to early December 2005. HKA Enterprises has agreed to pay $756,152 in unpaid overtime to 143 workers. HKA has 11 U.S. offices reaching from Michigan to Florida. The company’s website says that it provides technical, administrative, specialty craft and skilled labor resources on a contract basis.
A U.S. Department of Labor task force uncovered a number of wage abuses and violations in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The task force uncovered a number of violations, some from companies involving workers nationwide.
This is just the most recent in a series of minimum wage violations uncovered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
In August, five jointly-operated restaurants in Long Island, New York were ordered to pay almost $1 million to 191 low-wage workers. The employees had been forced to work long hours for wages less than the minimum wage, without overtime pay. The court ordered that if the employers did not pay up, their restaurants could be sold and the proceeds used to pay the employees.
In early July, the U.S. Department of Labor forced 107 subcontractors of KBR, Inc. of Virginia to pay some $1.5 million in back wages and benefits for up to 2,600 workers who participated in the Hurricane Katrina recovery project. The construction workers were involved in repairs to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport Mississippi or the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The U.S. Department of Labor is still searching for some of the workers involved in that case. Anyone who believes that they are owed back wages for these projects can contact the nearest U.S. Department of Labor office. The average payment per worker in that case was $616.
The U. S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division collected more than $171 in back wages for some 246,000 employees in 2006. Thos wages were a result of 31,987 “compliance actions” in 2006.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is attempting to locate a number of workers who participated in post-Katrina renovations or repairs in Louisiana and Mississippi. The workers are entitled to back pay from sub-contractors on the projects. The projects involve work done at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport or the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Anyone who believes that they are owed back wages for these projects can contact the nearest U.S. Department of Labor office.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently recovered nearly $1.6 million in back wages for workers in Mississippi and Louisiana due to violations of the Davis-Bacon Act and other federal regulations. The funds will go directly to some 2,600 employees who were involved in the renovation and repair of U.S. naval bases at Gulfport, Mississippi and Belle Chasse, Louisiana in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The awards average about $616 per worker.
Although Mississippi and Louisiana are two of the five U.S. states with no minimum wage, most workers in these states are protected by the federal minimum wage laws.
“This administration is committed to ensuring that workers are paid all the wages they have earned,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “We have recovered nearly $1.5 million for the workers who’ve been involved in the cleanup and restoration of these naval facilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina damage.”
The workers were employed by 107 different subcontractors all hired by KBR Inc., a company based in Virginia. In every case, the work was performed under a federal contract. Under the terms of most federal contracts, all wages paid must conform to a number of federal standards including the Service Contract Act (SCA), the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA) and the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA).
Both the SCA and the Davis-Bacon Act require that subcontractors pay the local prevailing wage rate and benefits on federal service and construction contracts. In addition, the CWHSSA sets standards for overtime pay for workers involved in federal contracts. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the 107 sub-contractors in violation of all these laws.
After an investigation, the Wage and Hour Division found that 107 different subcontractors involved in the projects had failed to pay required wages and fringe benefits. In some cases, the contractors also neglected to pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours per week. The agency determined that 2,623 workers at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse were due approximately $1,475,000 in back wages.
KBR Inc. and many of its subcontractors cooperated with the Labor Department’s investigation to ensure that all employees who were due back wages were compensated. Of the total back wages, the subcontractors paid approximately $670,000 directly to the affected employees. The prime contractor, KBR, paid the balance of $800,000 to the U.S. Department of Labor for disbursement to the remaining workers.
Under a special taskforce created in 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has investigated and prosecuted a number of violations of federal minimum wage laws in the Gulf Coast. These violations occurred as contractors moved into the area to perform work after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The wide-ranging investigations have recovered wages for workers from Florida to Maine.
In one prominent case, a Houston-based tree trimming service was found to have violated federal law by not paying more than $1.8 million in overtime to 2,500 workers. The firm, which specializes in disaster clean-up near power lines, was found to have violated the law in 16 states, including Florida, Texas, Ohio, Arkansas, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
That probe began after a tip from an employee led to the discovery that the firm was violating the minimum wage law in the 16 states. It was also violating the FLSA, or federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The settlement covered the period from August 2004 to August 2006.
The Davis- Bacon Poster* must be posted anywhere that government construction is taking place. So every employer that is doing work that the Davis-Bacon law relates to better have this sign posted at the actual work site somewhere that all employees can see it without having to hunt it down.
The Davis- Bacon Poster* basically explains to employees at these specialized construction sites exactly what their rights are as a worker for a government contractor. These rights can include their payment levels, their rights as apprentices, their overtime rights, and various other common employment related items, as they have to do with government contract work.
For instance, the Davis- Bacon Poster* will tell your employees that apprentice payment rates apply only to those apprentices who are properly registered and under approval by the state or federal apprenticeship program.
If an employer at a government contractor construction site doesn’t feel that he or she is receiving the proper pay for their work, according to the Davis- Bacon Poster*, that worker ought to contact the contracting office, which must be listed as well on the Davis- Bacon Poster*. That employee can also contact the nearest office of the Wage and Hours Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. So says the Davis- Bacon Poster*. Such offices are located across the United States in hundreds of communities.
The Davis- Bacon Poster* also explains to all workers at a site that they must be paid wages that are no less than the wage rate that must also be posted on the Davis- Bacon Poster*, based on the specific wages that an employee is performing.
The Davis- Bacon Poster* also goes into overtime, which is no different than most other workers’ pay for overtime according to the Fair Labor Standards Act—at least time and a half for all work performed in a week over 40 hours.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao wants to send a clear message to employers that violations of labor rights will not be tolerated. “To protect workers engaged in hurricane recovery and rebuilding, last year the department deployed additional investigators to the Gulf Coast region to better ensure that employers fully comply with wage and hour laws,” said US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
Secretary Chao adds, “This legal action is among our many efforts on behalf of these workers who are doing vital work for the Gulf Coast region’s recovery and who deserve and are entitled to receive all the wages they have earned.”
A recent suit filed by the U.S. Labor Department confirms Secretary Chao’s caution against employers who violate labor rights. The suit, to recover over $500,000 in back wages for employees working on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, alleges that the employer committed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) filed the suit against a Houston drywall firm for violating the labor rights of employees. Specifically, the employer misclassified employees as independent contractors, in order to avoid overtime payments mandated under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Back wages are expected to exceed $500,000 for more than 500 construction workers. Also named in the department’s lawsuit are the president of the company and a company vice president.
The drywall company performed on contracts for reconstruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The WHD investigation of the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino contract in Biloxi, Miss. and other worksites, found that the company owner regularly misclassified employees as independent contractors and failed to pay them the additional half time overtime premium for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The company also failed to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages and hours of work.