U.S. Department of Labor

05/31/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/31/2023 08:07

Costly retaliation: Vermont employer pays $28K in back pay, damages to illegally fired employee who sought unpaid wages

News Release

Costly retaliation: Vermont employer pays $28K in back pay, damages to illegally fired employee who sought unpaid wages

US Department of Labor also recovers $17.3K in unpaid overtime, damages for 17 employees

MANCHESTER, NH - When a Vermont employer fired an employee who said they would contact the "labor board" if they did not get paid for job-related travel time, the company violated federal protections against retaliation and found themselves facing costly consequences after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

An investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division determined Bevins & Son Inc. - operating as Bevins Excavating in Milton - terminated a worker for asking to be paid in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. The act prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee who exercises their rights, including filing a complaint or participating in an investigation. To resolve the violations, the employer paid the former employee $25,000 in punitive damages and $3,310 in back pay and liquidated damages.

"The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate employers retaliating against workers who exercise their federally protected rights to seek their full wages and to report their concerns," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. "The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids employers from attempting to silence workers who question or report their pay practices."

"This case sends a message to employers that any form of threat or retaliation against workers can have steep consequences," added McKinney. "Employers unsure of their obligations under the laws the division enforces should contact our office for assistance. Workers who may have been victims of retaliation or wage theft should also contact us to learn more about their rights."

During its investigation, the division reviewed Bevins & Son Inc.'s business practices and found the employer failed to pay workers for work-related travel, including time spent driving company vehicles from the employer's shop to jobsites. By doing so, the employer failed to pay overtime to 17 employees for whom the division recovered a total of $17,356 in unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages.

Bevins & Son Excavating is a family-owned business with more than 40 years of excavation and construction industry experience.

The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. It also prohibits employers from firing or taking adverse action against employees for exercising their rights. Learn more about how the Wage and Hour Division protects workers against retaliation.

Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers confidentially in more than 200 languages through the agency's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency's new Timesheet App for Android and Apple devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
May 31, 2023
Release Number
23-702-BOS
Media Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone Number
617-565-2075
Media Contact: James C. Lally
Phone Number
617-565-2074
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