US Labor Department investigation, litigation holds Fullerton Landscapes, LLC accountable
A federal court has approved a consent judgment ordering a Succasunna landscaping company and its owner to pay $400,000 in back wages and damages after the U.S. Department of Labor found the employer denied 32 of its workers the overtime pay they earned.
The court’s action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that determined Fullerton Landscapes LLC – operating as Fullerton Landscape Architects – and owner Douglas B. Fullerton failed to pay 32 employees time-and-a-half for hours over 40 in a workweek, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Following litigation by the department’s Office of the Solicitor, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered the company and its owner to pay a total of $200,000 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected workers.
“Paying straight-time rates or rates below straight time for overtime hours worked shortchanges workers of the hard-earned wages they need to make ends meet, and violates the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey. “Unfortunately, these types of violations are common in the landscaping services industry. We encourage employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division about their responsibilities and workers to contact the agency with questions about their rights.”
The division’s Northern New Jersey District Office conducted the investigation. Rolando Valdez, a senior trial attorney in the department’s New York Regional Office of the Solicitor litigated the case.
In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered $1.2 million for more than 1,000 workers in the landscaping services industry. With more than 11 million job openings in the U.S. reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2022 coupled with 4.4 million workers quitting their jobs, employers are find it difficult to fill positions they need to be successful. Employers who pay workers the wages they are due will have a competitive advantage over those who don’t.
“The U.S. Department of Labor vigorously pursued legal action to ensure that all employees are properly compensated as required by the law. The department will continue to pursue litigation where employers fail to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York.
Based in Succasunna, Fullerton Landscapes LLC provides residential, commercial and public design and construction landscaping services.
Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP
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