BOSTON, MA – A federal court in Massachusetts has issued a temporary restraining order against two construction contractors and a representative of one of the companies to prevent retaliation or discrimination after the defendants began a campaign of alleged threats and retaliation against an employee who complained about not receiving overtime pay and requested money he was due.
Issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston, the order names JKA Construction Inc., a carpentry contractor in Watertown, Massachusetts; Mendes Candido Framers Corp., a framing contractor in Hudson, Massachusetts; and Luiz Mauro Vilela Jr., Mendes Candido’s vice president and secretary. The order enjoins them, and those acting on their behalf, from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by retaliating or discriminating against any current or former employee.
The court’s action follows a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation that found that a carpenter – who worked for JKA, and whom Mendes Candido paid and Vilela supervised – engaged in FLSA-protected activity when he complained to Vilela about not receiving overtime pay he was due and requested that pay.
The defendants then allegedly began a campaign of retaliation, pressuring the worker to withdraw his overtime complaint. They allegedly caused other individuals to follow and threaten the worker’s family, and told other employees that they might lose their jobs because of the worker’s request. The Department’s complaint states that the defendants’ conduct left the employee feeling threatened and fearful for his family’s safety.
The Department’s complaint seeks a permanent order enjoining the defendants and those acting on their behalf from violating the FLSA by further intimidation, harassment or other adverse action against employees because of the employees’ protected activity. The Department also seeks punitive damages for the affected employee. Immediately after filing the complaint, the Department filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
“The U.S. Department of Labor took action to stop the defendants’ egregious retaliatory conduct immediately,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “Effective enforcement of the FLSA can occur only if employees feel free to assert their rights without fearing for their safety, or that of their families. When employers take adverse action against employees because they have asserted their rights, this case shows that the Department will take swift legal action to defend employees from threats, intimidation, harassment and any other adverse action.”
“Retaliating against and threatening employees can dissuade them from complaining about unpaid overtime, cooperating with an investigation or engaging in other activities protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston, Massachusetts. “To prevent violations from occurring in the first place, we encourage employers and employees to contact the Wage and Hour Division to learn about their responsibilities and rights under the law.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-11944