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Before stiffing workers, ask: Do I look good in orange?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Here’s an important lesson for employers: Judges don’t want to hear any excuses from employers that fail to pay back wages when ordered to do so. In fact, they’re perfectly willing to throw you in the slammer if you do.

Recently, the owners of Southern California Maid Service and Carpet Cleaning were jailed when they didn’t make court-ordered payments of back wages owed to 385 workers.

The cleaning service came to the court’s attention after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) accused it of wrongly classifying its home and carpet cleaners as independent contractors and failing to pay them minimum wage and overtime. A federal judge agreed and said they owed $3.5 million in back wages, plus interest, fines and liquidated damages of $1 million.

When they didn’t pay, they were held in contempt and taken to jail. They didn’t get out until they had worked out a payment plan with the court.

How did the cleaning service come to the DOL’s attention in the first place? The Employment Education and Outreach partnership, an alliance of organizations and government agencies assisting Spanish-speaking employees with labor problems, received a call and contacted the DOL.

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