The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered a northern New Jersey staffing agency to pay $65,000 in damages to an employee fired after the worker raised concerns about not getting paid for all of their hours worked.
The court’s action follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that alleged Advantix Logistics Corp. fired the employee in February 2022 because he complained to his supervisor that he was not paid for all hours worked.
The division also found that Advantix continued to threaten the worker when they asked why their final paycheck did not include all wages earned and tried to stop workers from cooperating with the investigation of the company’s pay practices.
These actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s anti-retaliation and investigatory provisions.
The consent judgment requires Advantix Logistics Corp. to pay the employee damages and forbids them from taking any future retaliatory actions in violation of the FLSA.
The judgment comes after a lawsuit filed by the department’s Office of the Solicitor, and a temporary restraining order in April of 2022.
“Federal law protects workers’ rights to come forward and make a complaint when employers deny them their hard-earned wages and prevents employers from retaliating or intimidating those who raise concerns,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey. “The Wage and Hour Division will vigorously investigate complaints of improper pay practices or illegal retaliation by employers and enforce the law.”
The court also ordered Advantix Logistics Corp. not to retaliate against, or intimidate in any way, current and former employees who complain about pay, speak with investigators, or otherwise assert their FLSA rights. The consent judgment also prohibits the employer from taking any actions to obstruct departmental investigations.
“The outcome of this case makes clear the U.S. Department of Labor does not tolerate illegal retaliation that interferes with workers’ rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York. “The Department of Labor will act aggressively to stop employers from retaliating against their employees and make it clear that retaliating against workers can have very costly consequences and will seek punitive damages when appropriate.”
The Wage and Hour Division’s Northern New Jersey District Office conducted the investigation. Senior Trial attorneys Jason Glick and Susan Jacobs of the Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws the division enforces, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
Employees may ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.
“For the past four decades, the majority of American workers have been shortchanged by economic policymaking that has suppressed the growth of hourly wages and prevented greater improvements in living standards,” said Lisa McCormick, an advocate for working class Americans.
“Wage theft, the practice of employers failing to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled, is a widespread and deep-rooted problem that directly harms millions of U.S. workers each year,” said McCormick, who explained that employers refusing to pay promised wages, paying less than legally mandated minimums, failing to pay for all hours worked, or not paying overtime premiums deprive working people of billions of dollars annually.
“Wage theft also leaves hundreds of thousands of affected workers and their families in poverty,” said McCormick. “This does not just harm the workers and families who directly suffer exploitation; it also weakens the bargaining power of workers more broadly by putting downward pressure on hourly wages in affected industries and occupations.”
“For many low-income families who suffer wage theft, the resulting loss of income forces them to rely more heavily on public assistance programs, unduly straining safety net programs and hamstringing efforts to reduce poverty,” said McCormick.