An aerospace defense contractor based in Broomfield, Colorado was ordered to pay almost $1 million in back wages to 904 employees in four states plus the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Department of Labor charges that Ball Aerospace and Technologies, Inc. failed to pay $976,327 in overtime to employees in Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Georgia and Washington D.C.
According to sources, an investigation showed that once senior technicians reached the maximum hourly rate, they were arbitrarily and unlawfully changed to salaried-exempt status. The change in pay rate did not include a significant increase in responsibilities. Under federal law, in order to be exempt from overtime pay, employees must have decision-making powers, significant administrative duties or they must supervise three or more people. None of those conditions were met for the 111 technicians in question, so they are due $383, 235 in unpaid overtime.
In addition, all employees were routinely required to work through their lunch periods without any pay. Even if they were not able to take a lunch break, an hour was deducted from their time cards every work day. This violation resulted in payments of $593,092 to 793 employees.
Ball agreed to keep more accurate payroll records in the future, in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, and to pay all required wages to employees in the future.
In late July, the U.S. Department of Labor forced Desert Plastering, Inc., a Las Vegas Nevada firm, to pay nearly $1.2 million in back pay to 1060 employees. The feds found that Desert Plastering had not paid required overtime to lathers, finishers, plasterers and estimators who worked up to 58 hours per week.
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.
Earlier this year, under a voluntary agreement to prevent a federal suit, Wal-Mart, Inc. agreed to pay $33 million in unpaid overtime wages to 86,680 employees throughout the nation. An internal audit revealed that the company had incorrectly classified some employees as “salary-exempt” when in fact they were entitled to overtime pay. In other cases, the company admitted that it had based overtime pay on the employee’s base hourly rate, not including incentives and bonuses in the employee’s average rate as required by law.
The Fair Labor Standard Act requires that most U.S. employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $5.85 per hour. The FLSA also mandates that employees must be paid 1.5 times their usual hourly rate for each hour over 40 in a single work week.
Many employers mistakenly believe that any worker paid by salary is exempt from overtime. The FLSA does provide a number of exemptions to the overtime law for bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales jobs. In general, employees must meet job duty and salary tests, to be exempt from overtime.
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.
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The federal government has just updated its USERRA regulations to cover a new group of employees.
With the changes, employers should update their New Mexico USERRA posters correspondingly, to reflect those changes.
The newest version of the USERRA regulations, released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor, adds federal government employees to the list of those entitled to file claims.
USERRA – the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 – offers job protection to returning veterans, as well as to National Guard and Reserve members.
Returning veterans have a two-step claims process available to them. The first is the original claim filed under USERRA. The claim is investigated by the Veterans Employment and Training Service. VETS in turn issues a finding. In most cases, employees who have been on military duty and away from their jobs less than 5 years will be entitled to get their old jobs back. Some may even qualify after 7 years, or longer. The process usually ends here, because most employers will rehire a worker after getting a VETS finding.
However, another step is available if that does not work. The employee’s claim may be sent on to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department brings a suit in a federal district court at no cost to the employee. The appropriate federal district court may rule that there were willful violations of the USERRA. In that case, the court could award additional damages. Not only damages, but also attorney and expert fees, will be awarded if an employee brings a suit on his or her own.
While federal government employees can now file claims, the procedure is different. Unresolved VETS findings would go to the Office of Special Counsel for federal government and U.S. Postal Service employees, rather than the Justice Department. The reviewing body is the Merit Systems Protection Board. Like the court, it may award damages.
The law requires employers to display an accurate poster even if the workplace does not include someone who serves or has served in the military.
What can New Mexico workers with disabilities expect from the latest move by the US Department of Labor? A new partnership between this department and an organization that represents human resource professionals should result in more jobs for these workers.
What is this new partnership? The partnership is between the US office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).
This partnership between the US office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) will focus on services the can help disabled workers, such as access to resources. Moreover, the new partnership will address research in addition to helping state agencies with necessary resources and addressing communication between agencies.
ODEP was created in 2001 to help disabled workers have access to jobs. The agency is headed by Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. Prior to the founding of ODEP, federal disabled worker policy was included in the US Department of Labor.
What will happen to the services New Mexico disabled workers receive through the New Mexico Department of Labor?
Workers will continue to be able to access the services available through the New Mexico Dept. of Labor. This new partnership will eventually provide disabled workers with more resources and opportunities. Because disabled workers still are underutilized in the workforce, this partnership should help. Training, along with outreach and technical assistance, are just a few of the targets of the new collaboration.
The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) was created in 1948. Since it was founded, this organization has grown to 550 chapters in over 100 countries. Moreover, over 200,000 people are members of SHRM. The mission of the organization is to “to serve the needs of human resource professionals by proving the most essential and comprehensive resources available.”
Now, by forming a partnership between ODEP and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), even more focus will be put on the issue of disabled workers. Even though disabled workers have more opportunities now than in the past, as a group they are underutilized in the national workforce. Hopefully, this new partnership will improve this situation.
Listen up, New Mexico employers. You have some new reporting requirements and opportunities that you should know about. Your Labor Secretary there has announced that the new multi agency quarterly reporting system is out and operational in the state.
The new system is meant to streamline, standardize and modernize how all of you report the needed business information that you have to report to the state every quarter. This can include, for instance, how you report your new hires to the new hire reporting system so that child support payments can be collected from delinquent parents for the needy children. Or the system can also come in handy when reporting your quarterly payroll amounts to the unemployment insurance taxation system.
The new system is care of a triple effort by three New Mexico government operations—the New Mexico Department of Labor, the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department, and the Workers’ Comp Administration.
Everything basically that you need to be reporting to the state, then, can be done through this new electronic system. Employee state withholdings, workers’ comp information and accident reporting, for instance, can be transferred via this system. It can be reported individually by each employee if you want to do it that way, or you employers can also tap into the ease of the system by reporting all of your employees and reports in bulk fashion.
You can check out the new so called Tri Agency System at the state Web site to see just how easy and or different it will make your life. It is viewable at the Web site https://ec3.state.nm.us/NMWebfile. The system is already up and running, as I explained, so the state authorities are even recommending that employers start to use the system for all of their reporting in the first quarter of this year, meaning right about now you could be getting yourself familiar with the new system if you hope to join in for the first quarter.