US Department of Labor obtains more than $35 million in back wages for 4,490 workers in Puerto Rico

In one of the largest settlements in the history of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Puerto Rico has agreed to pay $35,037,586 in back wages and interest to 4,490 current and former employees of the territory's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The settlement follows an investigation that found violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions.

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 hourly rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, during the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

Under certain conditions, employees of state or local government agencies may receive compensatory time off, at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked, instead of cash overtime pay.  The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regularly allowed employees’ comp time “banks” to greatly exceed the limit on hours. The back wages found due for the employees are the cash amounts of unpaid comp time accrued in excess of the limit.

By Russell Naymark

Legal Developments