Business

Hotel employees forced to work ‘off the clock’

The U.S. Department of Labor says local hotels and staffing agencies forced employees to work off the clock and often for less than the minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor says local hotels and staffing agencies forced employees to work off the clock and often for less than the minimum wage. AP archive

The Labor Department said it uncovered the rampant practice of employees being forced to work off the clock and often for less than minimum wage in the North Texas hotel industry.

An ongoing investigation found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act in cases where staffing agencies often provide the workers. The initiative has looked into operations at more than 30 hotels and motels in Arlington, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Plano and Abilene.

Housekeepers, cooks, maintenance workers, front-desk clerks and event managers are among the 639 employees in the Dallas area and in Abilene who received more than $180,000 in back wages after the agency’s inquiry.

“We are taking a hard look at the hotel industry where employment practices, such as subcontracting, franchising and third-party management, can put downward pressure on costs — often at the expense of wages,” Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the agency’s Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest, said in a statement. “We will continue to use every enforcement tool available to ensure industry-wide compliance with the law.”

Other violations included leaving out bonuses and commissions when computing overtime pay rates and not keeping accurate records of hours worked. Some employees were also misclassified as independent contractors.

The agency listed S&A Staffing in Dallas as a major violator. According to the company’s website, it provides temporary workers for banquet service at some of the most exclusive hotels and country clubs in the Metroplex.

Labor Department investigators reportedly found that S&A failed to combine hours when employees worked for more than one client during the week. That meant some workers had more than 40 hours in a week and weren’t paid time and a half for overtime.

S&A was required to pay $113,795 in overtime back wages to 390 employees.

The Star-Telegram contacted S&A, but officials were unavailable for comment.

Max B. Baker, 817-390-7714

Twitter: @MaxBBaker

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