Orlando hospitality staffing agency ordered to pay back wages after denying workers overtime rates | Orlando Area News | Orlando

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Housekeeper cleaning a hotel room.

An Orlando-based hotel staffing company that employs cleaning and maintenance workers unlawfully denied employees overtime, and has been ordered by the government to pay the workers what they’re owed — plus damages.

The U.S. Department of Labor shared in a news release earlier this month that the agency had recovered $114,000 for 100 employees denied overtime pay.

A federal investigation by the labor department’s Wage and Hour division found that APDC Cleaning Services Inc., a cleaning service company based in Orlando, failed to combine hours worked by 100 employees at several locations they service.

The company, which services 19 hotels in Florida, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina, paid the workers their usual hourly rate for overtime hours, according to the DOL, without taking into account the pay-and-a-half premium that employers are required to pay when someone works over 40 hours per work week.

“The hard work done by hospitality industry workers allows guests to enjoy their accommodations,” said Wildalí De Jesús, Orlando’s Wage and Hour Division District Director, in a statement. “[T]hey deserve to be paid all their legally earned wages, including overtime.”

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, most U.S. employees are entitled to overtime pay that’s at least one and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Covered employees who aren’t being paid overtime, or who are otherwise being cheated of pay they’re legally entitled to, can file a complaint with DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.

If your boss is stealing your tips, failing to pay overtime, or paying less than minimum wage, for instance, the division can launch a federal investigation into the matter.

If investigators determine that a violation of wage and hour laws did occur, the WHD can recover stolen wages for workers, plus damages. Workers can also look up the wages they’re owed online.

(Note: For minimum wage violations, the federal DOL can only recover up to the federal minimum wage, which is about $4 less per hour than Florida’s.)

In the case of APDC Cleaning Services workers, the Department of Labor recovered $114,000 for 100 workers affected, which breaks down to $57,177 in back overtime wages and $57,177 in what’s known as liquidated damages.

Liquidated damages are an amount that’s equal to the amount of pay workers should have received.

A spokesperson for the WHD told Orlando Weekly in an email that their investigation into the wage theft complaint covered the period of June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2022.

All complaints, including the names of workers who filed them, are confidential, according to the WHD spokesperson. The division confirmed that the back wages have been paid.

APDC Cleaning Services Inc., a company headed by a president who’s tried and failed to secure a seat in local elected offices multiple times, did not respond to Orlando Weekly’s request for comment.

According to federal data, the federal Wage and Hour Division last year recovered over $4.6 million in back pay for workers in the hotel and motel industry alone.

In February, the WHD recovered $159,519 in backpay for agricultural workers in Immokalee who were also cheated of overtime pay. A single restaurant worker in Bradenton recently recovered backpay through the WHD for being denied protected medical leave.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that workers lose billions of dollars in stolen wages annually.

Most states have their own state-level departments to investigate allegations of wage and hour violations, but as Orlando Weekly previously reported, the state of Florida does not.

Florida’s former state Department of Labor and Employment Security, once tasked with enforcing wage and hour laws, was abolished in the early 2000s under former Gov. Jeb Bush, who prioritized its dismantlement as a cost-saving measure.

Today, filing a complaint with the federal labor department is the best avenue most Floridians have for recovering stolen wages.

You can also contact the State Attorney General’s office (which is ostensibly tasked with investigating wage theft complaints, per state statutes) or find a lawyer who can help you take legal action, as necessary.

Moreover, some Florida cities and counties — like Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties — have also developed local wage theft recovery programs.

The city of Orlando and Orange County, however, have not. Osceola County is the only municipality in Central Florida that has.

The federal Department of Labor — underfunded as it is — has a WHD office in Orlando and others across the state, and they are able to field complaints.

“The Wage Hour Division is committed to safeguarding workers’ rights to get paid their rightfully earned wages,” said De Jesús.

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