$526,602 in Back Wages for Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations to be Paid by Norwegian Cruise Lines

Monday, February 20, 2012

Norwegian Cruise Lines has agreed to pay $526,602 in back wages to 2,059 employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that disclosed systemic violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions for employees of the company's Pride of America cruise ship in Hawaii.

The investigation determined that Norwegian Cruise Lines paid employees straight time for mandatory weekly emergency drills, regardless of the number of hours they had worked in the week. Most of the employees typically worked nearly 60 hours per week and should have received pay at time and one-half their regular rates for all hours in excess of 40, including during the emergency drills conducted each Saturday. This single violation accounted for the largest share of the back wage payments owed to the employees.

The investigation also determined that because the employer took large meal and lodging credits, some employees were paid less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Additionally, the employer failed to record and pay housekeeping staff for time spent cleaning cabins between cruises. Further, employees often began work prior to their scheduled shifts, yet these hours of work were neither recorded nor compensated.

"Employees in many jobs on U.S.-flagged vessels are entitled to the federal minimum wage and overtime protections under U.S. law," said Terence Trotter, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Honolulu District Office. "We appreciate that this employer came into compliance once the issues were identified. We hope that this case sends a clear message to similar employers about taking steps to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable federal labor laws."

Following the investigation, which covered the period from July 2009 through November 2011, Norwegian Cruise Lines agreed to develop and immediately implement a compliance plan to remedy its pay practices. Norwegian Cruise Lines employs more than 900 workers on the Pride of America at any given time. The Pride of America is the only U.S. flagship in the Miami, Fla.-based company's fleet. The vessel's ports of call are Honolulu, Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kauai, all in Hawaii.

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