Southwest Companies Pay Up for Overtime Back Wages

June 6, 2013

924972_work_on_train.jpgWage, hour and overtime lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report on two of the most recent companies ordered to pay employees their overtime back wages. Colorado's Ludvik Electric Co. will pay more than $75,000 to nearly 140 electricians, and Houston, Texas's Honghua America will pay nearly $690,000 to over 130 crane operators and roughnecks.

The Texas company was ordered to pay more than half a million dollars after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The federal agency found several violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), particularly in the overtime provisions, at Honghua's equipment manufacturing facility, located in Houston.

Honghua America was reportedly illegally labeling its crane operators and manual laborers as independent contractors so it would not have to pay the standard "time and a half" for overtime work. Instead, the company paid its employees straight time for all hours worked, including anything over 40 hours in a week. Some employees logged as many as 80 hours per week at the Houston facility without any overtime compensation.

Unfortunately, the improper labeling of workers as independent contractors is a common practice, done in effort to avoid paying workers what they are entitled to under the FLSA. This undercuts not only the employees themselves, but other companies that fully comply with federal and state employment laws as well. Due to this fraudulent phenomenon, the government has put in exhaustive effort in the past few years cracking down on illegal misclassifications.

Employees classified as independent contractors receive 1099 forms instead of W-2s upon employment; simply receiving this document, however, does not legitimatize the classification. Rather, the actual classification can only be determined by the relationship between the company and the worker. By misclassifying employees and independent contractors, companies can skip out on paying minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation benefits (among others).

In another recent investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, Ludvik Electric Co. was ordered to pay a little more than $75,000 in overtime back wages. Nearly 140 current and former Ludvik electricians will be enjoying this reimbursement for time they spent in training and required meetings but were never compensated for.

Failing to pay workers for trainings and required meetings is illegal, as is not paying time and a half for all time worked more than 40 hours in a week. Ludvik Electric is a large electrical contractor based in Lakewood, Colorado, also operating in Arizona.

If you know you have not been paid in full for all time worked, you do not have to wait for the federal government to conduct an investigation to be fairly compensated. One man, a former quick lube technician, recently filed a lawsuit against his employer for unpaid overtime wages.

The man worked for Ray Huffines Chevrolet between July 2010 and December 2011, and claimed that during the weeks he worked overtime he was not paid time and a half as required under federal law. He is seeking this overdue overtime compensation, liquidated damages, and interest.

Overtime lawyers at Pintas & Mullins encourage anyone not being paid in-full by their employer to contact a skilled wage, hour and overtime attorney as soon as possible. We have decades of experience working with these types of cases, and ensure you will receive the best representation and largest settlement possible.