Georgia Resource Center must pay its employees $157,473 after the U.S. Department of Labor uncovered violations of federal labor law

FROM VALDO, GA – Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center Inc. – doing business in Valdosta, Georgia as LARC Inc. – must pay $157,473 in back wages to 130 employees for failing to comply with Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). LARC Inc. also violated the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA).

WHD found that LARC Inc. incorrectly rounded two of the applicable wage rates it used to calculate employee salaries, resulting in underpayment under the FLSA. The employer also deducted 15-minute breaks from some employees' daily work hours and failed to count commute time and time employees spent donning personal protective equipment as work time. Each of these instances of unaccounted work time resulted in employees being underpaid. Inaccurately recording employees' work hours also resulted in a recordkeeping violation.

WIOA requires that individuals with disabilities age 24 or younger complete pre-employment transition services, vocational rehabilitation services, and career counseling, information, and placement services before being considered for work at a wage below minimum wage under Section 14(c) of the FLSA. WHD noted that the Center was unable to provide documentation demonstrating that all three requirements were met by the appropriate state agency before employees were paid wages below minimum wage.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all workers receive the wages they are entitled to under the law and to protecting workers with disabilities from exploitation in the workplace. We will continue to provide employers with training and tools to help them understand their responsibilities and comply with the law,” said Eric Williams, Atlanta, Georgia, Wage and Hour District Manager. “We encourage employers to contact their local Wage and Hour Department for help in avoiding potential violations.”

Section 14(c) of the FLSA is designed to provide more employment opportunities for employees with disabilities when their disability affects their productivity for the work performed. After applying for and receiving a certificate of WHD, the employer can determine the productivity of its employees and calculate the appropriate wage under Section 14(c) as a percentage of the wages for experienced employees performing similar work in the area.

For more information about FLSA Section 14(c) and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, call the toll-free hotline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations can self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.