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October 12, 2010
Off-the-Clock Work Proves Costly for Florida Firms

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently made major back wage recoveries from two Florida employers for work performed by hourly employees outside of their regular shifts.

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Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. in Orlando agreed to pay $433,819 in back wages to 69 employees after a WHD investigation found that inventory control clerks in the park’s Food and Beverage Department were not paid for work activities performed before and after their normal shifts. In addition, they were not paid for working through their mealtimes and when working from home.

“While Walt Disney has specific rules regarding off-clock work, an investigation conducted by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that managers within the company were not adhering to those important policies,” said WHD Administrator Nancy Leppink. “It is not enough to have policies. Management must also ensure that all supervisors are implementing them.”

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered employees be paid time-and-a-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses, and incentive pay, for hours worked over 40 per week. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, on the employer’s premises, or at any other prescribed place of work from the beginning of the first principal activity of the workday to the end of the last principal work activity of the workday, the Division noted.

WHD also recovered $868,443 in back wages for 1,065 employees of Central Florida Investments, an Orlando-based company that operates timeshare resorts in Florida and other states under the name Westgate Resorts.

The investigation, conducted by WHD’s Jacksonville District Office, determined that employees who scheduled tours of timeshare properties for the company were not paid at least the federal minimum wage for all the hours they worked. Additionally, premium pay for the workers did not include commissions, and overtime work was incorrectly computed. The company also failed to keep accurate time card records, WHD said.

The company agreed to correct the errors, make back payments, and institute new recordkeeping procedures to ensure employees are paid correctly according to federal law.

“Employers should know that when workers are deprived of their rightful wages, the Labor Department will not hesitate to take action to recover those wages,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law.”

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