$925,000 in Back Wages and Liquidated Damages to be Paid by Fur and Hide Supplier for Violations of the FLSA

 
Friday, October 25, 2013
 
The U.S. Department of Labor secured a consent judgment in federal court ordering Boston Hides & Furs Ltd., and its owner, Anthony Andreottola, to pay a total of $825,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 14 underpaid employees of the Chelsea, Mass., wholesale animal hide business. The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to 10 workers, who, the Labor Department asserts, were unlawfully fired for cooperating with the investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

The department filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in November 2012 alleging that the defendants violated the minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and “hot goods” provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and unlawfully retaliated against several workers by firing them after they cooperated with the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation.

Investigators found that 14 Boston Hides & Furs employees worked approximately 10 hours per day, six days per week, processing hides and furs for shipping to tanneries. These workers were paid a daily cash wage of $50 to $70, which amounted to an hourly pay rate far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The employees also were not paid time and one-half the required state minimum wage of $8 per hour applicable for those hours worked above 40 in a week.

While neither admitting nor denying the Department of Labor’s allegations, the defendants agreed to pay 14 workers a total of $412,500 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. The defendants also agreed to compensate the 10 discharged employees with an additional $10,000 each: $5,000 in compensatory and $5,000 in punitive damages. Additionally, the defendants will pay the department $50,000 in civil money penalties.

The judgment prevents the defendants from withholding payment of the back wages and damages, requires them to pay proper minimum wage and overtime to employees, and maintain adequate and accurate records of wages and work hours. It also prohibits them from shipping, delivering or selling into the stream of interstate commerce any goods produced in violation of the FLSA. Violations of any of these provisions could result in the defendants being found in contempt of court.
In addition to mandating payment of minimum and overtime wages, the law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment and provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. The FLSA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. 
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