BOSTON – A federal court in Boston entered a consent judgment in May of 2023, ordering two Middlesex County employment staffing agencies and their owners to pay a total of $256,992 in back wages and liquidated damages to 238 current and former employees who were placed with businesses in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The U.S. Department of Labor obtained the judgment following its investigation of the staffing agencies’ payment practices under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The department’s Wage and Hour Division is seeking to locate and distribute the money to the workers who are owed these wages and damages.  Empone Inc. of Lowell and Talenique Inc. of Tyngsboro supplied temporary employees to companies such as Greenhead Lobster Products LLC in Stonington, Maine; Maine Coast Shellfish LLC in York, Maine; Bombay Duck Company Ltd. in Acton, Massachusetts; and Alene Candles LLC in Milford, New Hampshire. Wage and Hour Division investigators found that Empone and Talenique violated the FLSA when they failed to pay employees time and one half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week. The investigation also uncovered FLSA recordkeeping violations. Empone and Talenique have paid the wages and liquidated damages owed to the division, which is distributing these funds to the workers. Empone and Talenique will also pay $463,407 in civil money penalties to the labor department, due to the willful nature of their violations.“These staffing agencies failed to pay their workers time and a half for hours worked over 40 per week. Instead, Empone and Talenique denied the workers the full wages they should have received,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston. “Temporary workers can be vulnerable to exploitation and underpayment, but the companies who contract for temporary workers can have responsibilities as well,” noted Matos. “They may also be liable as joint employers if the temporary employees are not paid properly. The Wage and Hour Division encourages joint employers, including those who use temporary staffing agencies, to verify that all employees are being paid properly under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”“Joint employers, including staffing agencies and host companies in some circumstances, can both be responsible for complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act, including ensuring that employees receive all the compensation they earn,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “This case sends a clear message that the U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate employers that shortchange workers of their hard-earned wages and that such actions can have costly consequences for employers who disregard the law.”The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell is assisting the Wage and Hour Division in locating employees that are due back wages and damages, as many of the workers speak Khmer and may have moved or are unaware they are owed the monies they earned. Workers can contact the association at 978-454-6200 or the Wage and Hour Division’s Boston District Office at 617-624-6700. 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 division 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.Su v. Empone Inc, Talenique Inc. Vanchan Tok and Natalie Sokhom a/k/a Jenny TokCivil Action No. 1:23-cv-10963This press release is also available in Spanish.

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