â€œEven when an employer contracts with a payroll service company, as this one did, the employer is required by federal labor laws to record and maintain accurate records of hours worked by employees. The employer is responsible for submitting accurate data for the preparation of employeesâ€™ paychecks,â€ said James Schmidt, director of the Wage and Hour Divisionâ€™s Tampa District Office. â€œIt is illegal for an employer to falsify the number of hours worked by employees.â€
The division has noticed the noncompliance in the hospitality industry and is concentrating its resources on investigating and remedying violations, informing workers of their rights and providing compliance assistance to employers. Since 2009, the division has concluded nearly 5,100 cases involving hotel and motel employers, resulting in more than $16.1 million in back wages for more than 30,000 workers nationwide.
Olympia Development Group LLC, doing business as Safety Harbor Resort and Spa in Tampa, has paid 37 employees $30,786 in back wages after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor identified violations at the resort of the Fair Labor Standards Actâ€™s overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions.
The investigation disclosed that management changed employeesâ€™ time records, removing hours they had worked before and after their scheduled shifts, and deducting meal breaks, regardless of whether those breaks had actually been taken. These deductions from employeesâ€™ timecards, in addition to violating record-keeping provisions, resulted in both minimum wage and overtime violations when hours worked went unpaid.Â Â Â Â Additionally, tipped employees were paid in violation of FLSA minimum wage requirements when, in addition to their direct cash wages they received from the employer, they did not collect enough in tips to earn minimum wage, yet the employer failed to make up the difference. Tipped employees were also paid in violation of FLSA overtime requirements when their overtime rates were based on time and one-half their direct cash wages rather than the full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
The employer has paid all the back wages found due and has agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. In general, hours worked includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employerâ€™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 employeeâ€™s wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
The Wage and Hour Divisionâ€™s Tampa District Office can be reached at 813-288-1242. Information on the FLSA and other federal labor laws is available by calling the divisionâ€™s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or by visiting http://www.dol.gov/whd.