The U.S. Labor Department’s driven a Missouri businessman to pay a price for cheating employees.
Gary Walker of Lee’s Summit is the former owner of Magic Touch Cleaning. He recently reached a plea agreement in federal court for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. As a result, he reimbursing employees double the amount he underpaid them.
Scott Allen of the Labor Department says Walker showed a flagrant disregard for the law. “Someone being told that you and your spouse would have to split a paycheck for 80 hours of work, despite the fact that each of you worked 80 hours. It seems ridiculous, but this is what the case was with Magic Touch Cleaning.”
Allen continued to run down a list of infractions the company committed under Walker. “Specifically, Magic Touch was paying multiple employees with one check, made payable to just one of the workers, and expecting them to share the wages” said Allen. “They were also paying for overtime at straight time on checks made out to other employees as well.”
According to Allen, the Labor Department will often catch an employer mistakenly shortchanging employees. He notes the employer will usually correct the problem quickly.
But he says Walker showed continuous blatant disregard for labor laws. “There’s a big difference between making an honest mistake, and trying to, if you will, rob these people of their rightful wages.”
Under his plea agreement, Walker will repay the employees double what he underpaid them, and do five years’ probation. From 2010 to 2013, he was found to have underpaid his employees $98,242 in regular and overtime wages. The court ordered he repay $196,484 in $50,000 increments each year until the full amount is paid off. Other violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act his company committed include:
- Falsifying employee’s names, timesheets and other payroll records.
- Failing to pay workers for time spent traveling between work sites.
- Failing to accurately record daily and weekly work hours and earnings paid.
- Failing to provide final paychecks to at least four workers.