DOL Investigation: What NOT to do!

By Linda H. Evans,
Senior Associate.


We know investigations by the DOL can be difficult.  And if you’re found guilty of not paying proper wages, it can be very expensive.  But this is ridiculous!


Back in 2008, the DOL began investigating a market in California for failing to pay overtime wages.  At the conclusion of the investigation, the two brothers who owned the market were ordered to pay approximately $47,000 in overtime pay to 13 employees.  What happened next is a good object lesson in what an employer should not do, no matter how upset you are with the DOL!  According to a recent indictment, first the brothers lied to the employees about what the DOL order said.  Then they had the employees sign paperwork stating they had received the back pay, which the employees had never received.  Later the brothers had employees sign checks for the amounts they were owed, but withheld the checks from the workers and never allowed the checks to be cashed.  But the brothers did send false statements to the DOL indicating the employees had received their overtime checks. A few years later a grand jury began considering this case which by that time also included charges that the brothers had attempted to pay off three employees to get them to lie to the grand jury.  Another employee was allegedly threatened with loss of his job if he testified that he had never received his back wages.


The indictment against the two brothers includes 17 charges and each charge carries a penalty of prison time of up to five years.  One brother also is being charged with four counts of obstruction of justice, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  So now that they are facing a maximum of 165 years in a federal prison, the brothers probably are rethinking their actions and wishing they had just paid the overtime!