BOSTON – A county jail in Madison, Maine, has paid $133,273 in overtime back wages due to 142 correctional officers to resolve violations of the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA) following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and litigation by its Office of the Solicitor.The Somerset County Jail had a contract with the federal government to house, safekeep and provide subsistence for federal detainees. The jail also housed non-federal detainees alongside the federal detainees. On January 6, 2023 a federal administrative law judge granted partial summary decision to the department against the jail. In granting the department’s motion for partial summary decision, the judge determined that the CWHSSA applied to the jail and that the facility violated the law. On the coverage issues, the judge concluded that: The CWHSSA does not provide a blanket exemption for state governments that use their own employees to perform services. The Act’s monetary threshold was met when the parties executed the federal contract because they anticipated that the value of the contract would meet the monetary threshold for CWHSSA coverage, even though the full amount of the contract was not stated at the time they executed the contract. Failure to include CWHSSA clauses in the contract did not prohibit enforcement because the Act is self-executing.Within the Act’s meaning, the correctional officers were “guards.” On the issue of the overtime violations, the judge agreed with the department that overtime wages under CWHSSA must be paid on a standard workweek basis. The judge rejected the jail’s argument that its alleged compliance with Section 7(k) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows certain law enforcement employees to be paid overtime on a work period basis longer than a standard workweek, excused its non-compliance with CWHSSA. The judge also concluded that all hours worked by the correctional officers constituted work under the federal contract and were subject to the CWHSSA overtime provisions because the jail did not separate federal from non-federal detainees and track hours worked on the federal contract, making it impossible to separate hours worked on the federal contract from those not worked on it.In the wake of the judge’s grant of partial summary decision to the department, the parties agreed to resolve the remainder of the case via consent findings, which included the jail paying $133,273 in overtime back wages due to 142 correctional officers. The judge approved the consent findings on August 4, 2023.View the Decision and Order Approving Consent Findings.“The summary decision order in this case will help protect the rights of workers on government contracts,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “It also clarifies a number of issues related to the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, including coverage under the statute, which hours worked by employees count for purposes of the Act and the Act’s relationship to Section 7(k) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.”“Federal contractors are responsible for knowing, understanding and complying with their legal responsibilities under federal contracts and laws, including the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. Violations are preventable. We encourage federal contractors with questions about their responsibilities and employees with questions or concerns about their rights under these laws to contact the Wage and Hour Division,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire.The division’s Northern New England District Office in Manchester conducted the investigation. The regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston litigated the case. Workers can use the division’s Workers Owed Wages search tool to check to see if they are owed back wages collected by the division.The CWHSSA requires contractors and subcontractors to pay laborers and mechanics, including watchmen and guards, employed in the performance of covered contracts one and one-half times their basic rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers confidentially in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for i-OS and Android devices – free and available in Spanish – to ensure hours and pay are accurate.Administrator,  Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor v. Somerset County, as operator of the Somerset County Jail.ALJ Case NO.: 2022-SCA-00003

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