HERMITAGE, TN – A federal court in Nashville has affirmed the findings of an investigation that determined a Tennessee security and traffic control services provider and its owner misclassified 105 workers as independent contractors, including some who worked as security guards in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
On May 26, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee issued a supplemental order awarding an additional $116,273 to affected employees. In total, the court ordered EM Protective Services LLC and its owner, Erik Massikas to pay a total of $632,463 in back wages and liquidated damages.
The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit after an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division determined individuals doing security and traffic control work for EM Protective were, in fact, employees and not independent contractors. As such, the employer was required to pay these workers minimum wage and overtime, as the Fair Labor Standards Act requires.
“A federal court in Nashville found that EM Protective Services misclassified 105 workers as independent contractors, leaving these hard-working people without the rights and benefits afforded to them as employees,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. “Misclassification strips workers of their rights to overtime and other federal protections and benefits.”
After hearing from several employees, a trial took place in Nashville in July of 2022, the court directed EM Protective to pay $516,190 in back wages and liquidated damages to employees who worked in Puerto Rico. Subsequently, the court directed EM Protective to pay an additional $116,273 in back wages and liquidated damages to a group of guards and traffic control officers employed in the Nashville area.
“The Department of Labor will pursue every available resource, including litigation, to make sure employers fulfill their legal obligations to their employees,” Howard explained.
Based in Hermitage, EM Protective Services provides work zone traffic control, business security, personal protection and private investigation services.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers can call the division confidentially with questions – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. 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. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for Android and i-OS devices, which is available in English and Spanish, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.