U.S. Department of Labor sues DirecTV, Kent subcontractor for failing to pay minimum wage
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
September 5, 2012 · Updated 11:08 AM
The U.S. Department of Labor has sued telecommunications provider DirecTV and a Kent-based subcontractor with the company for allegedly failing to pay employees the federal minimum wage or for overtime when installation technicians worked more than 40 hours per week.
The department accuses California-based DirecTV and subcontractor Lantern Light Corp. of Kent, doing business as Advanced Information Systems, and owner Ramon Martinez for alleged willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, according to a Sept. 5 media release from the Department of Labor regional office in San Francisco.
"DirecTV and Advanced Information Systems paid employees on a piece-rate basis, which resulted in their hourly rates falling below the federal minimum wage," according to the release. "The investigation also disclosed that installers were neither paid for all hours worked nor an overtime premium of one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, as required by the FLSA. Finally, the defendants failed to keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to employees based in Kent, Tacoma and Bremerton."
The department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Seattle filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It asks the court to award affected employees the unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation they are due plus an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The suit also seeks to permanently enjoin the defendants from future violations of the FLSA. In addition, the Wage and Hour Division intends to assess civil money penalties against the defendants for willfully violating the FLSA. Civil money penalties may be assessed when it can be shown that the employer knew that its conduct was prohibited by the FLSA or showed reckless disregard for the act’s requirements.
“This investigation and lawsuit hold the employer and its subcontractor jointly liable for labor violations against the affected employees,” said Donna Hart, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Seattle District Office. “DirecTV and Advanced Information Systems both were found to be responsible, as joint employers, for underpaying these employees. The bottom line is that subcontracting labor does not absolve an employer from responsibility for compliance with federal labor laws.”
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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week.
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. The FLSA also provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.
For more information about the Fair Labor Standards Act, contact the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-487-9243 or its Seattle office at 206-398-8039. Information also is available at www.dol.gov/whd.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.