Louisiana Recovery Workers to Get $709K in Back Wages

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By Paul Stinson

An Arkansas staffing agency agreed to pay $708,922 in back wages to 1,393 workers employed in disaster recovery efforts after prolonged rains resulted in flooding in Baton Rouge and other Louisiana work sites in 2016.

Wallace, Rush, Schmidt Inc. of Leachville, Ark., violated overtime, minimum wage, and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department said in announcing the wage action.

The case marks an effort by the department to ensure wage violations don’t occur amid storm recovery efforts.

“Companies have an obligation to pay workers correctly and to do so on time,” Betty Campbell, Wage and Hour Division administrator, said in the department’s statement. “We offer multiple resources, including materials specific to payroll obligations during disaster recovery,” she said.

WRS agreed to pay the back wages in the absence of legal proceedings, a spokesman at the department’s Dallas office told Bloomberg Law in a May 1 email. The staffing agency, he said, “basically” accepted the DOL’s findings following an investigation conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

The staffing agency “failed to maintain complete and accurate records” resulting in the employer’s “failure to pay” employees hired to assist with disaster cleanup following the heavy rains, the DOL said.

Limited access to technology “likely contributed to a delay in site supervisors’ ability to submit employee timesheets that left many workers unpaid for weeks,” according to determinations made by investigators.

The company didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

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