A Manchester, N.H., chimney services contractor has paid $26,163 to its workers to resolve allegations their employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's anti-retaliation provisions enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.
According to investigators, an employee of Ceaser Chimney Service Inc. was let go in June 2021 after discussing their legal rights with the New Hampshire Department of Labor, according to a Jan. 25 news release. During the inquiry, the employer also reportedly wrongfully questioned two other workers about their conversations with the Wage and Hour Division.
“The U.S. Department of Labor takes allegations of employee retaliation very seriously. Federal law protects workers’ ability to exercise their rights freely without fear of reprisals,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven McKinney said in the release. “These rights include the ability to contact the department and other agencies about the employer’s pay practices and to speak openly with investigators and other department officials during an investigation.”
Per the settlement agreement, Ceaser Chimney Inc. paid the terminated employee a total of $21,163, which includes $2,463 in back pay for time spent unemployed following their termination, $8,700 in front pay and $10,000 in punitive damages; paid other involved employees punitive damages totaling $5,000 or $2,500 each; agreed not to discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee because they filed a complaint, testified or participated in any FLSA investigation or proceeding or has asserted any right guaranteed by the FLSA; and agreed to provide all current and future employees with a written statement of their FLSA rights for a five-year period, the release reported.
“The division will continue to enforce these protections vigorously and make it clear – as Ceaser Chimney Inc. has learned – that retaliation against workers has costly consequences," McKinney continued, according to the release. "The Wage and Hour Division encourages workers and employers in northern New England to contact the Manchester District Office to learn more about their respective rights and responsibilities under federal law.”