CHATTANOOGA, TN — A Chattanooga, Tennessee foundry and machinist shop recently agreed to pay back wages to dozens of current and former workers to resolve allegations that the company withheld hundreds of thousands in overtime pay from workers in violation of federal wage and labor laws. The $335,680 settlement will compensate 68 employees in back pay in liquidated damages as compensation for the defendant’s violation of the law.
According to an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, defendant MetalTek International Inc. did not pay the workers for the time spent taking safety precautions before and after work amid high levels of lead and other job hazards. Those precautions included putting on and taking off protective gear necessary to perform their essential work duties, known as donning and doffing.
“The FLSA requires employers to pay employees for all hours that they work, which includes putting on or removing protective equipment required to perform their duties,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Nettie M. Lewis, in Nashville. “The resolution of this case ensures that these workers are paid the wages they have legally earned, and levels the playing field for law-abiding employers.”
The investigation further revealed the defendant violated federal record keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not keeping accurate time and payroll records. Under the FLSA, all workers have the right to receive wage statements detailing hours worked and wages earned during the pay period and employers are obliged to provide this information.
The FLSA provides wage and labor protections to nearly all workers in the United States and establishes basic wage laws like minimum wage, a 40-hour work week, and one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime work. Under the law, wage theft victims can file unpaid overtime lawsuits to recover up to three years of back pay and damages as well as obtaining injunctions against defendants to refrain from future wage theft.
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