A Berlin limousine firm has been ordered to pay its drivers half a million dollars in back wages and damages, after it failed to pay overtime for several years.
Premier Limousine was sued by the U.S. Department of Labor, after an investigation by the agency’s wage and hours division uncovered a systematic underpayment of drivers.
Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the federal agency, told WNPR, "The problem here was that these employees, these drivers, were being paid straight time when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week. When they work more than 40 hours, they’re required to get overtime."
This week, a federal court in Hartford found in favor of the Department of Labor and ordered the company to pay 183 drivers back wages and damages. Premier Limousine’s owner Stephen DiMarco issued a statement saying his drivers had been exempted from overtime to give them more flexibility in their work hours. He described the law on this matter as unsettled, but said he would comply with the settlement in order to put the matter behind him.
Fitzgerald said there’s no ambiguity. "It’s the employers responsibility to know what the law is," he said. "The bottom line is when we go in and conduct an investigation, if an employer is required and didn’t pay the wages, then we are seeking the back wages and where appropriate we are also seeking liquidated damages on behalf of the workers."
The Labor Department said investigators are making unannounced visits to limousine services in Connecticut to discover other violations in the industry.