SAN DIEGO – A federal investigation has recovered more than $169,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 235 workers employed by a San Diego drywall contractor who illegally denied piece-rate and hourly workers overtime pay.

The recovery follows a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation that found Polvera Drywall Corp. — operating as Great Western Drywall — and two related companies, Empire Insulation and State Insulation, did not pay the affected workers overtime, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, the employer told workers to record that they worked 40 hours per week when, in fact, many worked up to 60 hours per week.

“People working for piece-rate wages are especially vulnerable to wage theft,” said Wage and Hour Division Assistant District Director Emily Eckstein in San Diego. “Employers who wrongly believe they can abuse their employees’ rights to be paid all of their hard-earned wages will find the consequences for violating the law can be costly.”

In addition to the recovery of $84,796 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, the department assessed the employer $23,701 in civil money penalties for reckless disregard of the law.

Since 1985, Great Western Drywall has served customers in the greater San Diego area. The company specializes in residential light-gauge metal framing and drywall installation for multi-family, hospitality and assisted living projects.

The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid overtime at time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. 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 where they are from. 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 – free and now available in Spanish – to track hours and pay.

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