HARTFORD, Conn. – An investigation and litigation by the U.S. Department of Labor have resulted in a federal court ordering three bakeries located in Danbury, Connecticut, and Mount Vernon, New York, and their owner/officer to pay nearly $1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 74 employees to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Wage and Hour Division investigators found that Pedro Coelho and Coelho’s businesses – Padaminas NY Bakery II LLC, Padaminas NY Bakery LLC and Padaminas Brazilian Bakery Inc. – willfully violated the FLSA’s overtime requirements when they paid employees, primarily bakers and counter staff, who worked more than 40 hours per week straight time instead of time-and-a-half their regular pay rates. The employers also failed to keep records of employees’ work hours and compensation paid.
The consent judgment and order, entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, requires Coelho and his businesses to pay $952,433 – $476,216 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – to the 74 affected employees. The employers also must pay $41,568 in civil money penalties to the department due to the violations’ willful nature.
The order prohibits the defendants from violating the FLSA’s overtime and recordkeeping requirements and requires them to cooperate with department FLSA investigations and provide truthful responses, information and documents to investigators. It also prohibits them from soliciting employees to “kick back” the wages or liquidated damages.
“This is a significant recovery of back wages and liquidated damages for low-wage workers in Connecticut and New York, who were deprived of the hard-earned wages they rightfully earned and that their families need to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Donald Epifano in Hartford. “Such violations are avoidable if employers take the time to know and understand their responsibilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Wage and Hour Division is available to answer questions and address concerns and will not tolerate attempts to circumvent federal employment laws.”
“Wage theft is egregious and illegal,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “The U.S. Department of Labor continues to pursue investigations and legal actions to ensure employees are properly compensated for their work and hold accountable those employers who refuse or fail to comply with the FLSA.”
The division’s Hartford District Office conducted the investigation. The department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston filed the complaint and consent judgment in this case.
In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division conducted more than 4,200 investigations in the food services industry, recovering $34.7 million for 29,209 workers.
The FLSA requires that most employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.