An Ohio company thought it had hit on a way to put one over on Uncle Sam when it came to complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But things didn’t quite work out.
Cincinnati-based Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital paid 21 animal handlers the full amount of compensation that was owed to them — including overtime pay — but then required the workers to give back the overtime portion in cash.
The hospital then falsified payroll records to show that proper overtime wages had been paid, according to a report from the Department of Labor (DOL).
‘Who are they going to tell?’
Many of the workers did not speak English, which may have given the hospital a false sense of security that they wouldn’t speak up about the shady pay practices.
But when two advocacy groups — the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center and Su Casa Hispanic Ministry — caught wind of what was going on, they referred the workers to the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.
After an investigation, the DOL filed a petition in U.S. district court in Cincinnati seeking to recover the following from the hospital:
- $42,628 in back overtime wages for the 21 workers
- $23,100 in civil penalties for willful violations of the FLSA, and
- another $42,628 in liquidated damages.
Why another $42K? Under the FLSA, employers who violate the act by not paying overtime may be held liable for double damages.