Local business ordered to pay employees back wages

The U.S. Department of Labor has received payment from Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital to restore $42,627 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to 21 workers at its two locations, Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital in Pleasant Run and Sycamore Animal Hospital in Symmes Township.

The department filed a civil contempt suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio following an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that disclosed willful and repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay and record-keeping provisions.

The department also has received from the defendants $23,100 in civil money penalties assessed for willful violations of the FLSA.  The company paid the wages, damages and penalties on June 29.

"I am pleased that these vulnerable workers will receive back wages and damages," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.  "The Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital and its owners clearly understood their legal obligations, but they took advantage of workers they believed would not stand up for their rights. Employers have a legal obligation to abide by the wage laws of our nation and must not engage in practices to circumvent those laws."

Investigators determined that the company and its owners violated the FLSA by requiring employees working as animal handlers to pay back overtime compensation they had earned for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.  Payroll records were falsified for workers at both locations by showing the overtime compensation as having been paid.

The employers would pay workers the full amount due, including overtime compensation, then require the workers to give back the overtime portion in cash.

This investigation was the fourth of this employer by the Wage and Hour Division for alleged violations of the FLSA. Hamilton Avenue Animal Hospital is subject to a 2007 court-ordered injunction not to violate the act as a result of an earlier Labor Department suit filed against the company for failing to pay $9,225 in back wages to 19 employees. Those wages since have been paid. With payment of back wages, damages and penalties in this case, the consent order will purge defendants of contempt for violating the 2007 injunction.

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