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Contractors with the Department of Defense Repeatedly Violate Federal Wage and Hour Laws, According to Nationwide Study

This is Part 3 of our three part series regarding overtime violations among Department of Defense contractors.  If you have not already, check out Part 1 (Common Violations in the Industry) and Part 2 (Why Defense Contractors Violate).

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Recently, the Center for Public Integrity conducted a study of wage and hour violations by federal contractors from January 2015 to July 2016.

It found that contractors with the Department of Defense committed more pay violations than contractors with any other federal agency. 

The Center uncovered forty-nine contractors that the Department of Labor determined collectively owed $4.7 million in back pay to nearly 6,200 workers. You can review the report, titled "Workers cheated as federal contractors prosper," here.

Department of Defense Contractors Under Fire in Private Litigation

Some of the biggest names in the defense contractor industry have recently been hit with federal wage and hour class action lawsuits.

The prevalence of these lawsuits indicates that violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are common in the industry.

Here are some recent cases involving big players in the industry.

BAE Systems 

Earlier this year, a California federal judge preliminarily approved a $2.9 million-dollar settlement in a case where a class of individuals alleged they were forced to work off the clock and were not paid for interrupted meal periods.

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General Dynamics 

In 2015, a group of IT workers claimed they were wrongly classified as "exempt" from the FLSA's overtime requirements.

General Dynamics ultimately settled the case, paying class members lost wages based on the number of hours they worked for the company.

Harris Corporation 

In 2015, a Harris Corporation project manager filed a class action lawsuit in New Jersey against Harris claiming that it had a "No-Work, No-Pay" policy where employees' pay would be docked if they worked (and billed) less than a minimum of 80 hours in two weeks.

The case settled in 2016 but the terms of the settlement were not revealed.

Common Wage Claims Against Defense Contractors

These are just a few examples of the prevalence of wage and hour violations by Department of Defense contractors.

In these and others, employers are accused of:

· Improperly classifying employees as "exempt" from FLSA overtime guarantees, and paying them a salary, but not paying them overtime for 40+ hour workweeks;

· Paying employees straight time for overtime hours;

· Deducting for meal breaks even though the employee works (i.e., is not completely relieved of duty) during the meal break;

· Forcing employees to work off the clock;

· Misclassifying workers as "independent contractors" and not paying any overtime for 40+ hour work weeks; and

· Failing to increase the overtime rate by adding production bonuses, shift differentials, and other additional pay.

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Employees who prevail on their FLSA claims could recover all of their back pay going back up to three years, double back pay, and attorneys' fees.

If you'd like to discuss a pay practice that may violate the FLSA, contact us at (512) 782-0567 for a free consultation. 

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