Pennsylvania Record

Monday, October 21, 2019

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: Natural Gas Pipeline Contractor to Pay $354,933 in Back Wages and Damages to Employees Nationwide Following Federal Wage Investigation

By Press release submission | Jun 25, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor issued the following announcement on June 20.

Rockford Corp. – a natural gas pipeline construction company in Montrose, Pennsylvania – has entered into a consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Labor requiring payment of $177,466 in back wages, with an equal amount in liquidated damages, to 306 employees across the nation. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania approved the consent judgment on June 6, 2019.

An investigation by the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) eventually led to wider review and the discovery of overtime and recordkeeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at the employer's locations nationwide.

WHD investigators determined that, from March 13, 2016 through October 28, 2018, the employer failed to pay required overtime to equipment operators, welders, and helpers. Specifically, Rockford Corp. made additional payments to these employees beyond their base hourly rates, but failed to factor these payments into their regular rates to calculate proper overtime compensation. Rockford labeled these payments as "per diems," but the investigation revealed that these payments had no relationship to any travel or work-related expenses employees actually incurred. Excluding these payments from employees' regular rates resulted in them being paid overtime at rates lower than those required by law. The employer also failed to maintain accurate records as required by the FLSA.

"Employees must be fully compensated for the all of the hours they work as the law requires," said Wage and Hour Division District Office Director Alfonso Gristina, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. "The Wage and Hour Division offers many resources to ensure employees are aware of their rights and to help employers comply with the law. Costly violations like those found in this investigation can be avoided."

Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Rockford Corp. specializes in mainline work, compressor stations, and metering facilities. In addition to paying the back wages and damages, the employer has agreed to correct the violations and the consent judgment permanently enjoins the employer from violating the FLSA in the future.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time-and-one-half their regular rates, including commissions, non-discretionary bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.

Original source can be found here.

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