HR compliance is more important than ever, with recent news that the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against a Houston employer for not keeping adequate records of employee time worked, including weekly time sheets. 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, 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. “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.”
While busy employers may think of HR compliance as a minor matter, to the Department of Labor, violations are a serious offense. The 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 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.