Los Angeles dry cleaners must pay workers $93K in back wages
LOS ANGELES – A dry cleaning company agreed to pay its workers more than $93,000 in back wages after investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that JB French Dry Cleaners violated the minimum wage, overtime and record keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Upon learning of its errors, JB French Dry Cleaners, at 6040 Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles, quickly agreed to comply with the FLSA and to pay $93,505 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages totaling $187,010 to 26 workers.
The case came to the attention of labor authorities through the effort of a community and nonprofit alliance which has components in the Latino and Filipino communities.
Specifically, the firm paid the majority of the employees working at its four locations a biweekly salary without regard to the number of hours employees actually worked.
For some employees this salary, divided by the number of hours worked, was not enough to cover the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour. When employees worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek, they were not paid legally required overtime.
The affected employees worked an average of 50 to 60 hours per week. In addition, the employer failed to properly record all hours worked for each of its employees.
“It is the responsibility of employers to learn about and implement the laws and regulations that apply to their businesses,” said Francisco Ocampo, assistant director of the Wage and Hour Division’s district office in Los Angeles.
“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for violations. The Wage and Hour Division offers a great deal of compliance assistance and stands ready to help both workers and employers. Workers are entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work,” Ocampo added.
Investigators learned about this case thanks to the Employment, Education, and Outreach (EMPLEO) program’s labor assistance helpline at 1-877-55AYUDA (help, in Spanish). EMPLEO has helped more than 10,000 workers recover more than $15 million in back wages since it began 10 years ago in San Bernardino, California.
This alliance of community and nongovernmental organizations, along with local, state and federal agencies, and Central American and Mexican consulates, provides assistance to Hispanic-workers on employment related issues. EMPLEO serves workers throughout California, and also in Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Hawaii. The alliance launched EMPLEO-Pinoy in Los Angeles last September to help Filipino workers.
Simply paying employees a salary does not mean they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime. The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees.
To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. On June 30, 2015, the Wage and Hour Division announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the regulations defining, which white-collar workers are eligible to receive pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. For more information visit www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/NPRM2015.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as time and one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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