TAMPA, FL – A federal court ordered a Winter Haven security services company to pay $117,880 in back wages and liquidated damages to 76 employees who the U.S. Department of Labor determined were misclassified as independent contractors.
The action by the U.S. District Court for Middle District of Florida in Tampa to approve the consent judgment on June 29, 2022 follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that determined Freeman Security Services Inc. and owner Darren Freeman misclassified 76 security guards as independent contractors in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
By misclassifying the workers, the employer paid the guards straight time for all hours worked and denied them overtime wages for hours over 40 in a workweek. Freeman Security Services also failed to pay several former security guards final pay, and minimum wage rates as the law requires.
“Employers who misclassify employees will be held liable for back wages and may face substantial penalties,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida. “The Wage and Hour Division knows these violations are all too common. We are determined to recover wages owed to workers and will work diligently with the department’s Office of the Solicitor to obtain justice for workers and hold employers accountable for their compliance failures.”
Misclassification of employees as independent contractors denies workers’ rights, including overtime and minimum wages and unpaid leave; and protections and other benefits. The illegal practice also prevents collection of payroll taxes at the local, state and federal levels.
Established in 2008, Freeman Security Services Inc. provides security consulting services for residential and commercial clients.
The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. 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). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division online, including Seven Best Practices for Employers of Janitorial, Landscaping, and Security Services Workers and 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 devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.