Labor officials recover $180,000 in back wages, damages from three OC construction contractors – Orange County Register

Kevin Smith

U.S. labor officials have recovered $180,299 in back wages and damages from three Orange County construction contractors who failed to pay overtime and minimum wage to their workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered $90,150 in back wages, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages for the affected workers. The division also assessed the employers $5,319 in civil penalties.

The Labor Department’s action targeted:

Skeffington Enterprises Inc., a Santa Ana general contractor operating as Ben’s Asphalt, who denied workers their full earnings by not paying them overtime rates for time worked beyond a 40-hour workweek due to a deduction of hours for lunch breaks not taken. The division recovered $111,253 for 20 employees.

Ziegler, an Orange County manufacturer and installer of garage doors and iron gates, who failed to pay workers minimum wage and overtime wages. The department recovered $54,964 in back wages and liquidated damages for 19 employees and assessed $3,324 in penalties for the willful violations.

ABC Builders LLC, a construction contractor in Costa Mesa, who misclassified security guards as independent contractors, failed to pay required overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek and didn’t keep time records or report all employees on payroll. The division recovered $7,041 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for three workers and assessed $1,995 in penalties.

Representatives with the three companies didn’t provide statements in regard to the back wages and damages owed.

Min Park-Chung, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour division director in San Diego, encourages employers to “do the right thing by complying with the law and paying workers all their earnings.”

But many, he said, save money by skating the law.

“Common labor law violations in the construction industry include employee misclassification, piece-rate paid workers not properly compensated for overtime, paying straight-time rates for overtime and not paying for all hours worked,” Park-Chung said in a statement.

Wage theft — whether it comes in the form of unpaid tip money, unpaid overtime or pay that falls below minimum wage — is a rampant problem. It costs American workers as much as $50 billion a year, according to an Economic Policy Institute report — an amount that surpasses all robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts combined.

In July, the owner/operator of two LA-area Wingstop restaurants agreed to pay $667,414 in back wages and fines for allegedly underpaying 309 workers.

And Romero’s Food Products in Santa Fe Springs was ordered in June to pay $650,000 in back wages to 26 delivery drivers who were misclassified as independent contractors and wrongly exempted from overtime pay as a result.

The Labor Department has a search tool for workers whothink they may be owned back wages.

Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-487-9243.

Kevin Smith Business,Local News,News,Top Stories OCR

2024-01-04 23:15:53 , Anaheim News: The Orange County Register

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