$1.42 Million in Back Wages and Liquidated Damages for FLSA Violations by Plumbing Company

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a settlement by consent judgment that provides for the recovery of $1.42 million in back wages and liquidated damages for more than 300 current and former employees of four Long Island City plumbing and heating contractors. The related businesses are Danica Group LLC; Copper Plumbing & Heating LLC; Copper II Plumbing & Heating LLC; Copper III Plumbing & Heating LLC, and the owners are Thomas Andreadakis, Leonidas Andreadakis and Helen Andreadakis. 

Investigations by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that the contractors violated the overtime and record- keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, they paid employees straight time wages rather than time and one-half when employees worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek, and issued separate paychecks for the overtime hours from a petty cash account. 

Additionally, they misclassified at least 25 employees as independent contractors, paying them a weekly salary that did not compensate the employees at time and one-half when employees worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. The defendants also frequently paid many employees late, sometimes requiring workers to wait several weeks to be paid. Finally, they maintained incomplete and inaccurate payroll records. 

Under the terms of a consent judgment entered with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the defendants will pay the workers $710,000 in back wages covering the time period between September 2010 and April 2014, and an equal amount in liquidated damages. The judgment also includes enhanced compliance provisions that will commit the defendants to taking effective steps to improve their payroll recordkeeping, ensure that employees are paid on time each week, reclassify as employees those who were previously misclassified as independent contractors and properly pay them. 

Under the FLSA, employers misclassify workers by failing to distinguish employees from bona fide independent contractors. An employee — as distinguished from a person who is engaged in a business of his or her own — is one who, as a matter of economic reality, follows the usual path of an employee and is dependent on the business that he or she serves. 

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.

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