Workers in Port Arthur, Texas suspected that they had been underpaid for their overtime work, and after an investigation, there appears to have been some truth to that suspicion. The employees had aggregated over six figures of back wages from their hard labor work due to alleged violations of federal law.
Performance Blasting and Coating L.P. of Port Arthur, doing business as PBC, has paid $170,622 to 314 current and former painters and sandblasters following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.
The division’s Houston District Office found that the employer paid workers “straight time” for all hours worked rather than a required time and one-half rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The employer also failed to pay employees for time spent traveling in a company vehicle on their way to and from work locations for the job being performed.
Additionally, the company failed to keep accurate time and payroll records of each person working. During the investigation, it was disclosed that, in some cases, hours were removed from employees’ timecards after they were submitted.
“Vulnerable employees worked as many as 68 hours in a workweek without overtime compensation,” said the regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “This practice is illegal and unacceptable. Employees’ hours must be tracked and recorded accurately, with payment made for all hours worked. Other employers should use this opportunity to ensure that their record-keeping practices are accurate, and they are paying their employees in compliance with the law.”
Performance Blasting and Coating, which specializes in painting industrial and marine equipment, has agreed to comply fully with the FLSA in the future. The back wages owed have been paid in full, but the problem of workers not getting paid the overtime they deserve is still an issue at large.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Most states also have laws that address minimum wage and overtime compensation in addition to the federal laws, such as the local Texas labor laws that were not recognized in Port Arthur.
In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained for the duration of their employment.
Employees that realize they are not receiving proper pay have options when it comes to settling what is owed to them. If you feel you should be paid overtime but are not receiving the pay, check with your local department of labor to make sure your company is covered under FLSA.
- License: Creative Commons image source
By Connor Bryant, a long time construction worker with too much experience in making sure he’s been compensated for his time.