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US Department of Labor recovers $44K in back wages, damages for 2 workers denied overtime by Jackson ground delivery contractor

JACKSON, MS – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $44,280 in back wages and liquidated damages for two employees of a Jackson ground delivery contractor who failed to compensate them for work they did off-the-clock from their homes.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Douglas Inc. – operating as Douglas Express Delivery – allowed the employees to work off-the-clock without compensation, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. After working their regular shifts and clocking out, the employees would then continue to perform work-related tasks from home such as responding to customers’ phone calls, texts and emails, providing directions to drivers for deliveries and finding alternate drivers when vehicles broke down.

In addition to failing to pay the workers for the off-the-clock work, Douglas Express owed the workers time-and-one half the required rate of pay as the off-the-clock work exceeded 40 hours in a workweek. The division also cited the employer with a recordkeeping violation for not recording the hours employees spent working from home after they left their physical worksite. The division also assessed Douglas Express with an $882 civil penalty for repeat violations. In two previous investigations, Douglas Express paid $157,568 in back wages to 59 employees.

“The pandemic blurred the lines between home and office as safety dictated that some companies allow workers to complete job-related tasks from their homes, however, employers remain obligated to compensate workers for all their hours of work, including the time they spent working from home,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall in Jackson, Mississippi. “As more people use e-commerce sites to shop and the demands on warehousing, logistics and delivery companies increase, employers must ensure they comply fully with worker protections of wages and benefits, regardless of where the work is performed.”

Amid historic shifts in the nation’s workforce, employers are finding it more difficult to retain and recruit the people they need to do the jobs they offer. Many of those difficulties are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in transportation and warehousing, excluding the postal service, to grow about 327,300 new jobs in the next decade.

“Workers will naturally flock to businesses that show an ability to pay them their full wages as they are earned,” Hall added. “Employers who fail to meet their legal obligation to workers and make it harder for them to make ends meet may find themselves struggling to hire the people they need to operate.”

Established in 1958, Douglas Inc. is a ground delivery contractor that delivers office supplies, furniture, pharmaceuticals, auto parts, beverages, medical supplies and mail. The company has five branch locations in Tupelo, Batesville, Greenwood, Hattiesburg and Gulfport.

Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions regardless of where they are from and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

For information about the FLSA and other laws the division enforces, contact the agency at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and its search tool if you think you are owed back wages the division has collected.

Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.

Read this news release En Español.