The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is targeting Southern California’s landscape industry, looking for contractors and subcontractors that pay workers less than minimum wage. In particular, they’re looking for landscapers that shortchange workers who cut the grass and mulch the flowerbeds on public property, such as city parks and along roadsides.
Based on WHD investigations in 2010 and 2011, as many as 77% of Southern California landscape companies working for government entities may violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. The feds estimate that more than 6,000 workers may be owed more than $4.8 million in back pay.
WHD says investigators will stage surprise inspections of contractor premises and work sites to review employment practices and pay records. They will also interview employees. If they find violations, cases will be referred to local, state and federal agencies for enforcement.