PITTSBURGH — After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Huwa Enterprises — an environmental restoration company based in Keenesburg, Colo. — paid $9,174 in back wages, and an equal amount in liquidated damages for violating the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (while performing reclamation services on pipelines in western Pennsylvania.
Investigators determined that — from Dec. 28, 2015 to Dec. 18, 2017 — Huwa Enterprises, doing business as Arnold’s Custom Seeding, was a subcontractor that provided reclamation services for newly installed, or replaced pipelines. Overtime violations occurred when the employer paid employees bonuses labeled as a “per diem” payment regardless of the employees’ travel status or distance from home to the worksite. For employees who did not have to travel to the job and had incurred no travel expenses, these payments did not constitute reimbursement and should have been included in the calculation when the employer determined overtime rates for these employees. Excluding these bonus payments resulted in the payment of overtime rates lower than those the law requires.
“The FLSA requires employers to calculate overtime pay accurately so employees are properly paid, and so that all employers compete on a level playing field,” said Wage and Hour Division District Office Director John DuMont, in Pittsburgh. “The results of this investigation should encourage other employers in this industry to examine their payroll practices to ensure they comply with the law. We encourage employers to reach out to us with questions, and to use the many tools we provide to explain their responsibilities.”
The counties in Pennsylvania in which the company performed this work included McKean, Elk, Warren, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all the hours that they work, 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.