GOUCESTER, MA — A federal judge recently entered a consent judgement ordering a Gloucester, Massachusetts seafood processing company to pay workers thousands of dollars in back pay and overtime wages to settle claims the defendant engaged in systematic wage theft against employees. The settlement will compensate 60 employees with $90,000 in back pay and damages while the company and its owners will also pay a civil fine of $28,050 to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“This resolution secures proper compensation for these hard-working employees, and helps ensure that the law will be followed in the future,” said Wage and Hour District Director Carlos Matos.
According to the unpaid overtime lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, defendant Intershell International Corp. and its owners failed to pay dozens of workers overtime wages despite the employees frequently working more than 40 hours in a week. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), almost all hourly employees are entitled to one and a half times their average hourly rate of pay when working above the overtime threshold.
Investigators with the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered the defendants hired the workers through various staffing agencies but exercised almost total control over the employees, making the defendant a joint employer and obligating them to pay overtime. The defendant had attempted to skirt paying overtime wages by issuing paychecks through different staffing agencies to spread out hours.
“Employers may not avoid the obligations they owe their employees – gaining an unfair advantage over employers who honor those obligations – by attempting to shift their legal responsibilities to temporary agencies. It’s critical that host companies acknowledge and comply with their responsibilities to these workers,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Michael Felsen.
As part of the consent judgement, the defendant must also refrain from discharging or discriminating against employees who initiate or cooperate with an FLSA investigation. Under the law, initiating an FLSA complaint is a protected action and aggrieved workers may be entitled to extra damages if they are retaliated against.
Food Worker Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit
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