165 CABLE, TELEPHONE AND INTERNET INSTALLERS, SOME OF WHOM WERE MISCLASSIFIED AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, SUE EMPLOYER TO RECOVER UNPAID OVERTIME WAGES AND DAMAGES UNDER THE FLSA

March 20, 2012.  US DOL sues Kentucky cable, telephone and Internet installer to recover unpaid overtime wages and damages for 165 employees. Investigations alleged  Bowlin Services LLC and Bowlin Group LLC misclassified employees as independent contractors and falsified payroll records. The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking back wages and liquidated damages for 165 employees of Bowlin Group LLC and Bowlin Services LLC for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The department’s suit was filed following investigations by its Wage and Hour Division that found the defendants had misclassified employees as independent contractors, and violated the FLSA by denying overtime compensation and failing to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The department also is requesting a permanent injunction against the companies to prevent future FLSA violations.

Bowlin Group LLC maintains its principal office in Walton and operates five subsidiaries. One of these subsidiaries is Bowlin Services LLC, which performs installation services primarily under contract to Insight Communications, a cable, telephone and Internet provider in Kentucky.

“Our investigators found that 165 hardworking employees – including many who had been misclassified as independent contractors – were required to work long hours but were illegally denied overtime compensation,” said Oliver Peebles III, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta Regional Office. “Misclassification seriously harms employees by forcing them to shoulder additional costs such as payroll taxes and the full costs of any fringe benefits. This lawsuit puts employers on notice that we will not hesitate to take legal action to enforce the law.”

After conducting employee interviews and reviewing the company’s records, the division found that some installers were classified as employees but other installers, doing the same work, were classified as independent contractors.

All installers, regardless of their classification, were paid based upon the pieces of equipment they installed rather than at an hourly rate. They were thereby denied overtime compensation, which would have been at least one and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours beyond 40 hours in a week.

In addition, the employer failed to keep accurate records of the number of hours worked by each installer and falsified payroll records to minimize the numbers of hours worked. The amount of back wages and damages owed continues to accrue while the employer remains out of compliance with the law.

The solicitor’s Nashville Branch Office filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Jury Division, located in Covington.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and have a history of significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat both to employees entitled to good and safe jobs, as well as to employers who obey the law. Too often employees are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Honest employers have a difficult time competing against this practice. The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and to level the playing field for employers that play by the rules.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.

These kinds of lawsuits may also be brought by a private law firm such as the Law Office of Rose H. Robbins and FLSA provides for attorneys fees and costs to be paid by the employer.

Our firm will prosecute class  and collective actions on behalf of aggrieved employees. We will undertake any litigation arising from this investigation on a contingent fee basis. If a lawsuit is filed as a result of this investigation, we will only seek payment of any fees from recovery generated by the lawsuit. This means any fee we receive will be paid by the defendant or out of any settlement or judgment recovered.  Likewise, all costs will be advanced by us. If an action is filed and not successful, you would not be responsible for any of our fees or costs. If you wish to discuss this investigation and any potential legal options you may have, or if you have any questions please contact our law office.

You may contact the Law Offices of Rose H. Robbins for a free consultation to see if you have a case for unpaid overtime or minimum wages by calling (954) 946-8130 or by filling out the confidential “contact us” form below which will arrive at our law offices instantly. You may email us too: rose (at) roserobbins.com   If our office decides to accept your case and we enter into a written, signed retainer agreement you will not have to pay anything unless we win your case. Appointments are available at various locations in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.