HONOLULU – A federal investigation has recovered $33,399 in back wages and liquidated damages for 14 underpaid workers of an Oahu tour operator who denied crew members on a company tour boat their overtime wages.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Ocean Journeys LLC – operating as And You Creations – failed to pay the required overtime pay rates for hours over 40 in a work week, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Investigators found the employer paid crew members on its Waianae tour boat partial overtime hours at time and one-half their rate of pay and paid the remaining wages at straight time which they then listed as ‘bonus’ payments on company payroll records. The division also found Ocean Journeys failed to include incentive bonuses or commissions in the rates of pay when calculating overtime pay due.
In addition to back wages and damages, the department assessed Ocean Journeys $2,618 in penalties for the willful nature of the violations.
“Overtime wages earned should be overtime wages paid,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Terence Trotter in Honolulu. “Employers cannot manipulate or attempt to hide hours worked in an effort to avoid their obligation to pay earned overtime lawfully.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Honolulu saw its unemployment rate drop from 5.3 to 3.2 percent from March 2021 to March 2022, making it more difficult for employers to recruit and retain workers who can make choices about the employers for whom they work.
“With Honolulu’s low unemployment rate, employers who fail to meet their legal obligations to their workers are competing with employers who pay workers their rightful wages,” Trotter explained. “In addition to the costly consequences of back wages and damages, employers whose pay practices violate the law will find it difficult to fill vacancies with the people needed to do the work that makes their company successful.”
Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.