Department of Labor Recovers $168,000 in Unpaid Wages for 51 Emergency Responders Misclassified as Independent Contractors

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Utility Resource Services LLC Fails to Pay Workers for Over 7 Months

WILMINGTON, NC: The US Department of Labor has recovered $168,796 in back wages for 51 workers from a Wilmington storm response contractor who misclassified them as independent contractors and failed to pay them for several months after completing the work.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Utility Resource Services LLC, which employs former maintenance workers and drivers to identify and report issues with power lines and electricity in hurricane-affected areas, violated the minimum wage and overtime payment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying many of the affected workers for over seven months.

Investigators also discovered that the employer had misclassified some workers as independent contractors and failed to pay them the required time-and-a-half rates for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, as well as failing to maintain payroll records for their employees as required by law.

“Federal law requires employers to comply with all worker protections, including proper classification and payment of all legally earned wages,” said Richard Blaylock, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Our staff provides routine assistance and training to help employers understand and comply with the law and avoid the costly consequences of violations.”

During the investigation, the employer reported that they were unable to make payroll payments because another company responsible for the contract for these services had not paid them. “The law does not allow employers to transfer their financial difficulties onto their workers. The fact that a client fails to pay an employer for services rendered does not affect their obligation to pay their employees legally earned wages on their regular pay dates,” added Blaylock.

Currently, the Wage and Hour Division has over $2.5 million in recovered wages for more than 3,200 workers in North Carolina. Individuals who believe they are owed back wages that have been recovered by the division can use the Workers Owed Wages search tool to determine if they are owed any back wages.

Workers and employers can call the division confidentially with any questions, and the department can provide assistance in over 200 languages. For more information on the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (4 into blog format. Make sure to include proper formatting such as section breaks.  

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