East Penn dis­putes over­time law­suit

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot on Twit­ter

The U.S. Depart­ment of La­bor filed a law­suit against East Penn Man­u­fac­tur­ing in Lyon Sta­tion for al­leged over­time and record­keep­ing vi­o­la­tions of the Fair La­bor Stan­dards Act.

In re­sponse, East Penn is­sued a state­ment that the claims are without merit and that the com­pany has fully co­op­er­ated with the Depart­ment of La­bor’s re­view of East Penn’s em­ployee pay­ment prac­tices un­der the fed­eral over­time and record­keep­ing laws.

Ac­cord­ing to a Depart­ment of La­bor re­lease is­sued on March 20, the Depart­ment’s Wage and Hour Di­vi­sion con­ducted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that found the bat­tery man­u­fac­turer failed to pay em­ploy­ees for all hours worked. The Depart­ment states that em­ploy­ees were not paid for time spent putting on pro­tec­tive cloth­ing af­ter clock­ing in

and re­mov­ing that pro­tec­tive cloth­ing and show­er­ing be­fore clock­ing out, time which is com­pens­able un­der the law and fail­ure to pay for these hours vi­o­lates over­time pro­vi­sions of the Fair La­bor Stan­dards Act.

“The Depart­ment of La­bor is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that em­ploy­ees re­ceive the wages they have earned for all the hours they have worked,” said Al­fonso Gristina, Wage and Hour Di­vi­sion District Di­rec­tor in Wilkes-Barre, in the re­lease. “The le­gal ac­tion in this case demon­strates the Depart­ment’s com­mit­ment to work­ers, and to lev­el­ing the play­ing field for em­ploy­ers that com­ply with the law.”

The suit seeks back wages and dam­ages for more than 6,900 em­ploy­ees for will­ful vi­o­la­tions of the FLSA, and an or­der per­ma­nently en­join­ing

the com­pany from vi­o­lat­ing the FLSA in the fu­ture. The FLSA re­quires that cov­ered, non-ex­empt em­ploy­ees be paid at least the fed­eral min­i­mum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one­half their reg­u­lar rates for hours worked be­yond 40 per week, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of La­bor re­lease.

In re­sponse to the law­suit, East Penn is­sued a state­ment, “East Penn Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co., for the past 2 years, has fully co­op­er­ated with the Depart­ment of La­bor’s re­view of East Penn’s em­ployee pay­ment prac­tices un­der the Fed­eral over­time and record-keep­ing laws. East Penn, which em­ploys over 7,000 em­ploy­ees in Berks County, has a long his­tory of pro­vid­ing com­pet­i­tive wages and ben­e­fits for em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies. East Penn be­lieves that the com­pany has com­plied with the Fed­eral laws, and were sur­prised when the La­bor Depart­ment filed its

law­suit.”

East Penn re­ports that the Depart­ment of La­bor did not give ad­vance no­tice to East Penn, filed its law­suit without pro­vid­ing the com­pany with a copy at the time of fil­ing, and is­sued a press re­lease on March 20 without no­ti­fy­ing East Penn.

“East Penn be­lieves the claims are without merit and in­tends to vig­or­ously de­fend the Depart­ment’s al­le­ga­tions,” ac­cord­ing to the East Penn state­ment. “While the com­pany would like to com­ment more on the sub­stance of the Depart­ment’s charges and the way the Depart­ment has treated East Penn, be­cause this is now in lit­i­ga­tion, the com­pany is cur­rently not in a po­si­tion to com­ment.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the FLSA and other laws en­forced by the Wage and Hour Di­vi­sion, con­tact the Di­vi­sion’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). In­for­ma­tion is also avail­able at http:// www.dol.gov/whd.

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