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 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 the 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 finding it difficult to fill positions they need to succeed. Employers who pay workers their due wages 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.
Contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for information about laws enforced by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions, regardless of immigration status, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
The Wage and Hour Division has several resources online for workers and employers, including an FLSA compliance toolkit. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L., NJ Landscaper Ordered by Federal Court to Pay $400K in Back Wages and Damages to 32 Workers, Workers' Compensation Blog, June 18, 2022), https://workers-compensation.blogspot.com/2022/06/nj-landscaper-ordered-by-federal-court.html
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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