Department of Labor Cites GA Roofing Contractor For Exposing Employees to Fall Hazards, Proposes Penalties

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has again cited Jose A. Serrato, an independent roofing contractor based in Marietta, Georgia, for exposing employees to fall hazards at a worksite in Birmingham. The employer, who has been cited seven times in the past five years, faces $133,604 in proposed penalties.

OSHA conducted the investigation under the Agency’s Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction, and cited Serrato for exposing employees to fall hazards of approximately 28 feet, and for failing to re-train employees who did not demonstrate the skills necessary to recognize fall hazards.

“Employers are responsible for ensuring their worksites are free of recognized hazards,” said Ramona Morris, OSHA Birmingham Area Office Director. “This employer has continually exposed employees to fall hazards by disregarding federal safety requirements.”

Serrato has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Displaying safety posters signify a commitment to compliance. Our Safe Lifting, Avoiding Slips, Trips, and Falls Poster can be used in conjunction with the required safety training for your employees.

DOL Replaces Guidance on Employee Classification

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn its 2014 guidance regarding the meaning and scope of the term “employment relationship” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and replaced it with its guidance from 2008. As a result of this move, the DOL no longer advises that “most workers are employees.”

Withdrawn 2014 Guidance
In 2014, the DOL issued guidance on how to determine whether an employment or independent contractor relationship exists for purposes of the federal FLSA. The guidance stated, among other things, “Applying the FLSA’s definition [of “employ”], workers who are economically dependent on the business of the employer, regardless of skill level, are considered to be employees, and most workers are employees.” Effective immediately, this guidance has been withdrawn.

2008 Guidance Once Again Effective
The 2014 guidance has been replaced by guidance from 2008. The 2008 guidance does not contain the guidance that “most workers are employees.” However, this guidance does include the same “economic realities” test present in the 2014 guidance, under which determination of employee status is made by considering the following factors:

  • Whether the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business.
  • Whether the worker’s managerial skill affects the worker’s opportunities for profit or loss.
  • The worker’s relative investment compared to the employer’s investment.
  • Whether work performed requires special business skills, judgment, and initiative.
  • Whether the worker-employer relationship is permanent or indefinite.
  • The nature and degree of the employer’s control of the work.
Originally posted by HR360

Governor approves tipped minimum wage increase

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI)- Governor Gina Raimondo has given thousands of Rhode Island residents a raise.201506558869d56ec02

The governor signed a bill into law yesterday that raises the state’s tipped minimum wage from $2.89 an hour to $3.89 an hour over the next year and a half. This is Rhode Island’s first increase in the tipped minimum wage in 20 years. The state currently has the lowest wage for tipped workers in all of New England.Governor Raimondo says the increase will help more than 22,000 tipped workers in the state. “These are hard-working people. They deserve a livable wage. My job is to make Rhode Island a place of opportunity for everybody and, if you work full-time, you shouldn’t live in poverty. So, I feel great that we increased the minimum wage,” said Raimondo.

Advocates for restaurant workers say the increase still does not go far enough.

“Even with this increase, servers are still going to be paid 31% of the full minimum wage, which is still less. That’s a second tier and that’s unacceptable in a democratic society, right?,” said Michael Araujo of ROC United.

Governor Raimondo says the change will be easier on local businesses since the dollar increase is spread out over 18 months.

WPRI 12 Eyewitness News

Labor Commissioner Cites Grocery Chain El Super More Than $180,000 for Wage Theft Violations

El Super

Los Angeles—California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su this week cited Paramount-based El Super grocery store chain for multiple wage theft violations, with assessments and penalties totaling $180,668. The chain of 43 markets is owned and operated by Bodega Latin, Inc., with 15 locations in Los Angeles.

The investigation revealed that El Super denied rest and meal periods, and failed to pay overtime wages for 20 workers at 10 of El Super’s Los Angeles markets.

“California labor laws are clear regarding rest periods and overtime requirements. Employees must be compensated for the hours they work and the benefits they earn,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a division of DIR.

Investigators gathered evidence using payroll records audits and worker interviews. The evidence indicated rest and meal period violations as well as overtime premiums owed between June 17, 2012 and June 6, 2015 for all of the workers interviewed. Some employees worked an average of 55 hours per week but were paid for only 40 hours without overtime. Workers were forced to clock out for meal breaks but ordered to return to work without taking their full meal period. In some cases, workers were not allowed to take rest breaks.

Bodega Latin, Inc. was assessed $3,557 in minimum wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, $44,463 in overtime wages, $93,228 in rest period premiums, $19,903 in meal period premiums, $8,161 in waiting time penalties and $7,800 in rest period penalties.  Bodega must also reimburse its staff at the 10 locations $101,084 for illegal uniform deductions documented during the audit.

“This citation is an expensive reminder to employers who are depriving workers of their hard-earned wages,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.

Many of the wage violations were documented in off-site interviews with the El Super workers.

“Workers often do not know their rights and fear losing their jobs for complaining about wage theft,” said Su.  “It is important that workers exercise their labor rights by contacting us if they have been victimized by wage theft – and we can help workers to feel safe by offering off-site interviews where they can speak without their employer watching.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, formally known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation and whistleblower complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses, and educates the public on labor laws. Updated information on California labor laws is available online.

The Wage Theft is a Crime public awareness campaign, launched last year by DIR and its Labor Commissioner’s Office, has helped inform workers of their rights. The campaign includes multilingual print and outdoor advertising as well as radio commercials on ethnic stations in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers’ Information line at 866-924-9757 also offers recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161 for additional details.

CA DIR News Release No.: 2015-61                                      Date: July 3, 2015