The US Department of Labor has fined two US-based lawn care organisations, Super Cutz Lawn Care and Precision Cut Lawn Service, a total of $59,926 (£46,748.27) in back pay for 92 employees, for failing to pay overtime and for not keeping records of staff working hours.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) at the US Department of Labor found in its investigation of Precision Cut Lawn Service that the Indianapolis-based organisation had misclassified some employees as managers and had therefore incorrectly considered them exempt from overtime payments, which are required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if employees work more than 40 hours in a work week.
The organisation also paid other employees a flat rate salary, which did not take into consideration the number of hours that employees worked. This means that Precision Cut Lawn Service violated overtime requirements under the FLSA if these employees worked more than 40 hours a week without additional pay. Precision Cut Lawn Service claimed that its employees’ salaries were part of a profit-sharing model where employees received individual bonuses depending on the organisation’s revenue during specific periods.
A total of 50 Precision Cut Lawn Service employees were awarded $31,905 (£24,889.09) in back pay.
In a separate investigation, the WHD found that Newburgh-based Super Cutz Lawn Care had wrongly classified 42 employees as independent contractors. This resulted in employees not being paid for overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week, which does not comply with the FLSA.
The affected Super Cutz Lawn Care employees were awarded $28,021 (£21,859.18) in back pay.
Both organisations also failed to maintain required records of the number of hours employees worked, which violated the record-keeping requirements of the FLSA.
Patricia Lewis, district director at the WHD, Indianapolis, said: “Too often, as in these investigations, we find employers misclassify employees as independent contractors or exempt from overtime pay because employers don’t fully understand their obligations under the law. We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division for assistance, and to make use of the many tools we provide to help them understand the law.”