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Contractor Gives NOLA Workers Back Pay

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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After a recent investigation by the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the agency has found Gomez Drywall Construction Inc. (Fort Walton Beach, Florida), guilty of breaking federal rules on overtime compensation to Louisiana-based workers.

The company has been operating in Louisiana since 2017 and, according to reports, failed to pay workers overtime, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What Happened

Last year, Edwin Murillo—one of Gomez’s former workers—filed a class-action lawsuit against Gomez for the failure to pay overtime since at least April 2015. In addition to Murillo’s claims, the case identified two other laborers—Yony Ramirez and Marvin Ruiz—who had been in the same situation as Murillo.

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After a recent investigation by the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the agency has found Gomez Drywall Construction Inc. guilty of breaking federal rules on overtime compensation to Louisiana-based workers.

Settled in March of this year, the District Court in New Orleans found enough evidence proving that it was Gomez’s policy to not pay overtime rates and allowed the class action. Following the case, the WHD opened another investigation against Gomez.

"Violations like those found in this case are common in this industry, and are avoidable," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Troy Mouton, in New Orleans.

"The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that employees receive the wages they've earned and that employers compete on a level playing field."

From there, the agency was able to determine that Gomez had been misclassifying workers as independent contractors, resulting in the failure of payment for overtime hours accumulated after completing 40 hours within the work week. The current law requires that employees working overtime are to be paid at time and one-half of the employees’ regular rates.

According to the agency, recordkeeping violations also occurred since Gomez had unsuccessfully maintained time and payroll records as required by the FLSA.

Gomez's lawyer, Scott Huffstetler, of Kean Miller in Baton Rouge, said, "The client, and other than to say that they dispute some of the statements in the (Department of Labor's) press release, they are not going to otherwise comment."

However, in discovering that Gomez’s employees were jointly employed by RSL Contractors LTD (Spring, Texas)—which hired Gomez as a subcontractor—RSL cooperated in the investigation in addition to agreeing to release payments due to Gomez directly to the DOL. The Louisiana Workforce Commission auditors also participated in the investigation.

As a result of the suit, Gomez has been forced into paying 108 employees $178,766 in back wages.

   

Tagged categories: Contractors; Department of Labor; Ethics; Good Technical Practice; Labor; Lawsuits; NA; North America; PaintSquare App - Commercial; Subcontractors; Violations; Workers

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