BOSTON – In a complaint filed in Vermont federal court, the U.S. Department of Labor has alleged that a Milton excavation company retaliated against an employee in social media posts after the company’s workers received back wages and damages in 2023, resulting from an investigation into the employer’s pay practices.In May 2023, the department announced a settlement with Bevins & Son Inc. in which the company agreed to pay 17 employees $17,356 in unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages to resolve its alleged failure to compensate workers properly for travel and work preparation time at the start and end of the workday. The employers also agreed to pay an additional $3,310 in back pay and liquidated damages, as well as $25,000 in punitive damages, to an employee who was illegally terminated for threatening to complain about unpaid job-related travel time. The department’s Office of the Solicitor in Boston now alleges that — in the wake of the settlement of that earlier case and related media coverage — the company retaliated against employees who benefited from the investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. More specifically, the department alleges that the employer’s treasurer wrote a public Facebook post blaming a “disgruntled” ex-employee for media coverage of the settlement and encouraging people to examine the employee’s background. The company’s president also allegedly posted comments on the site that suggested Bevins & Son had illegally solicited or accepted repayment of some of the back wages and liquidated damages paid to employees. In an administrative deposition that followed the posts, Bevins & Son’s president stated the social media posts were intended to upset the wrongly terminated employee who the company believed was responsible for the settlement’s media coverage.“The U.S. Department of Labor is deeply committed to protecting workers’ rights. Retaliation against employees for asserting those rights is against the law. When employers retaliate, including on social media, they should be prepared to face the department in court,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston.The department is seeking injunctive relief and punitive damages in its complaint.“The Wage and Hour Division does not tolerate retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We continue working to ensure that workers are protected from employer retaliation and receive the wages they are owed.”Learn more about how the Wage and Hour Division protects workers against retaliation. 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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of immigration status. The department can speak with callers 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 iOS and Android devices in English or Spanish to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
Copyright 2023 © KPSK | Site by Surgical Marketing Group