☷US Department of Labor investigation finds Arizona landscaping company denied full wages retaliated against workers | U S Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor ( By Press Release office)
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US Department of Labor investigation finds Arizona landscaping company denied full wages , retaliated against workers Federal court orders employer to pay $185K in wages , damages to 66 employees PHOENIX – Following a U . S . Department of Labor investigation that found a Phoenix - area landscaping company and its owner used illegal pay practices , lied to investigators and intimidated workers , a consent judgment has been entered in federal court to recover back wages and damages for employees and hold the employer accountable . On April 28 , 2022 , the U . S . District Court for the District of Arizona ordered Artificial Grass Masters LLC of Peoria – operating as Artificial Grass Masters and Sun Screens for Less – and owner Joshua Apodoca to pay $92 , 500 in back wages and $92 , 500 in liquidated damages to 66 employees . The judgment also requires the landscaping company and Apodaca to pay $15 , 000 in penalties for the willful nature of their violations . The action follows a February 2021 investigation by the Wage and Hour Division’s Phoenix District Office . The Regional Solicitor’s Office in San Francisco handled the matter on behalf of the Department . “The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate retaliatory action and intimidation against workers . Employees have a legal right to be paid their wages in full , to seek the wages they have earned and to assist investigators without fear of harm , threats or harassment , ” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Murray in Phoenix . “Retaliation is a priority for the division , and we will use every tool available to enforce the law , prevent wage theft and address employer intimidation . ” Investigators determined the employer paid workers in cash and off - the - books , denied overtime pay , lied to investigators , and intimidated workers . In addition to the back wages and damages , the consent judgment specifically prohibits Artificial Grass Masters LLC and Apodaca from doing any of the following because of employee’s assertion of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act:Discharging or threatening discharge , laying off , not providing work . Cutting employees’ work hours or wages . Intimidating , including intimidating by brandishing firearms or other weapons . Providing negative employment references or taking any steps to interfere with an employees’ application to work for another employer . “Intimidating employees because they exercise their rights strikes at the heart of government enforcement efforts , ” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco . “The U . S . Department of Labor stands ready to protect employees from intimidation and retaliation , and it will hold employers accountable for attempting to silence their employees . ” Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status . The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll - free helpline at 866 - 4US - WAGE ( 487 - 9243 ) . Visit the agency’s website to learn more about the Wage and Hour Division , including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division .
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