Jun. 6—A federal court has ordered a Salem landscaping contractor to pay 19 workers thousands of dollars in overtime pay they were improperly denied, officials said.
Belko Landscaping LLC of Salem was ordered to pay $283,020, including $141,150 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, to 19 workers to resolve violations of the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The company was also ordered to pay a $14,231 civil penalty for "the "willful nature of the violations."
U.S. Department of Labor investigators said in a news release the company failed to pay employees the required rates for their 40-plus-hour work weeks. Instead, the employer paid workers straight-time rates for overtime hours worked.
Belko also failed to record work hours for some workers accurately, officials said.
"Paying straight-time rates for overtime hours worked shortchanges workers of the hard-earned wages they need to make ends meet, and violates the Fair Labor Standards Act," said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney in the Department of Labor's Manchester office. "Unfortunately, these types of violations are common in the landscaping services industry. We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division about their responsibilities and workers to contact the agency with questions about their rights."
In its consent judgment, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire requires the payment of the wages and damages, and enjoins the business and its owner from future violations of the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and anti-retaliation provisions. It also requires the company to provide current and future employees with information on the FLSA's overtime requirements in English and Spanish.
"As this case shows, the cost of violating the law can be high for employers who willfully deny workers the wages they have earned," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston in a statement. "In cases such as this, the department will seek to hold employers accountable for paying their workers the wages they owe them and seek an equal amount in liquidated damages because the employees have been without use of their hard-earned wages for a period of time."