Workers deserve to keep the wages and benefits they earn. That may sound like an obvious statement, but to some employers, it’s not clear at all. In recent years, the U.S. Labor Department has collected hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers whose employers tried to deny them what they had rightfully earned.
Now the department has recovered nearly $8 million worth of earnings and benefits to more than 2,000 employees whose employer failed to make payroll for their last two and half weeks of employment. This case is especially poignant because the workers were security guards entrusted with protecting federal buildings across the country. While the guards were doing their best to keep other workers safe, their employer, USProtect Corp., was holding back the pay and benefits that they deserved.
Teaming up to right this wrong, investigators from the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Wage and Hour Division uncovered the bad practices at USProtect and recovered compensation and benefits for these workers.
In addition to failing to pay workers, the company did not remit employee contributions to their 401(k) plan. Saving for retirement is a challenge in almost any circumstance. It is unconscionable that a company would take money out of the pockets of their workers by not depositing funds the employees had designated to go into their 401(k) plan as required by law.
In this case, the employer obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the McNamara O-Hara Service Contract Act are clear: Pay your employees and submit their contributions to retirement plans in a timely fashion. These workers did what they were expected to do; yet their employer did not live up to its side of the bargain.
The compact of trust between employers and workers should never be broken, and when it is, the Labor Department will take all necessary action to correct wrongdoing. Whether this means working through the civil justice system or teaming with other federal agencies to prosecute criminal acts, I want it to be abundantly clear that we will never back down when it comes to ensuring that workers can keep the pay and benefits they have earned.