BOSS WATCH: 10/13 - 10/20
Updated On: Dec 04, 2023

BOSS WATCH: 10/13 - 10/20

By JACOB MORRISON October 24, 2023

Illegal activities of Southern Bosses for the week ending on Friday, October 20

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a federal consent judgment that requires the operator of a Hebron, Kentucky warehouse and distribution center to stop employing children illegally and to not violate federal child labor laws in the future.

The action addressed Win.IT America Inc.’s illegal employment of children, which investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered in August 2023. Investigators determined that the company employed two children — ages 11 and 13 —for months at its distribution center. 

Specifically, the division found several violations by Win.IT America of child labor provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act. These violations included employing one child to operate a forklift, a hazardous occupation for workers under 18 and tasking another child to pick orders in the warehouse, a prohibited occupation for workers under 16. In addition, the company employed both children for more hours than legally allowed and violated federal regulations that forbid employing workers under 14 years of age in non-agricultural occupations.

In addition to ordering the company to comply with federal child labor regulations, the court required Win.IT America to pay $30,276 in civil money penalties and to hire a third-party consultant to provide semi-annual compliance training for all management personnel for a period of three years. 

In fiscal year 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor found child labor violations involving 3,876 children nationwide, an increase of more than 60 percent over the past five years. The department addressed those violations, assessing employers over $4.3 million in civil money penalties. 

Founded in October 2013, Win.IT America Inc. is the U.S. branch of WinIT Information Technology Co., a Shanghai, China-based integrated supply chain solutions provider with more than 700 employees in the U.S., Australia, Germany and Great Britain.

One of the country’s largest public universities has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor in which the employer will pay $575,000 in back wages and interest to resolve alleged pay discrimination identified in a routine compliance review.

The review of Florida International University by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs alleged that, from Aug. 1, 2017, to Aug. 1, 2018, the university paid 163 women employees less than men in similar positions. The institution’s failure violated Executive Order 11246, which forbids federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. 

In addition to paying back wages and damages, the employer agreed to set aside $125,000 for future pay equity adjustments and other pay equity-related activities and to take steps to make sure its compensation practices and policies are free from discrimination. Florida International University entered into an early resolution conciliation agreement to resolve the allegations.

The university provides educational, basic research, research and development, consulting and security services to the federal government. It also holds contracts with the Department of Defense, the Agency for International Development, Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 

Florida International University is a multi-campus, public university serving South Florida that emphasizes research as a major component in the university’s mission. With a student body of more than 55,000, FIU is among the top 10 largest universities in the nation.

Variety store retailer Dollar General has agreed to pay $1 million and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that its hiring process violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) , the federal agency announced today.

According to the lawsuit, after making job offers to work at its Bessemer, Alabama Distribution Center, Dollar General required applicants to pass a pre-employment medical exam during which they were required to divulge past and present medical conditions of family members such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The EEOC also alleged that Dollar General used qualification criteria that screened out qualified individuals with disabilities. For example, Dollar General rescinded job offers to applicants whose blood pressure exceeded 160/100 or who had less than 20/50 vision in one eye, even when those impairments did not prevent the applicants from safely performing the job.

The EEOC filed suit after its Birmingham District Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC sued on behalf of a class of 498 applicants who were required to divulge family medical history during the hiring process and on behalf of another class of qualified applicants whose job offers were rescinded based on their impairments. Dollar General discontinued its practice of requiring pre-employment medical exams for these warehouse jobs after the lawsuit was filed.

Under the 27-month consent decree settling the suit, in addition to monetary relief, Dollar General must review and revise its ADA and GINA policies and distribute them to all individuals involved in the hiring process should they resume requiring medical exams. In addition, Dollar General must require their medical examiners not to request family medical history; must consider the medical opinion of an applicant’s personal physician; and must inform applicants how to request a reasonable accommodation if needed. The decree also requires Dollar General to provide annual training to all individuals involved in the hiring process on the ADA and GINA and to post a notice to employees on their rights under these statutes and how to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment in a Virginia federal court to recover $205,180 in back wages and liquidated damages from a Williamsburg restaurant that shortchanged 62 employees of their overtime wages intentionally.

The court action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found restaurant Food for Thought and owner Howard Hopkins paid kitchen staff straight-time rates for all hours worked, including hours over 40 in a workweek, which denied them required overtime rates. The employers also failed to keep accurate records of employees’ hours worked and did not display federal minimum wage posters as required. These actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The order entering the consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Newport News on October 4, 2023, requires the company and Hopkins to pay $102,590 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. They must also pay $50,034 in civil money penalties for the intentional nature of their violations. The order forbids them from future FLSA violations.

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