Ohio Refinery Pays $969,182 in Back Wages

The violations began when Husky Energy changed eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts for some of its workers, which resulted in alternating work weeks of 60 and 24 hours. A second violation was found involving the employer's not including a shift differential in the overtime pay.

Husky Energy Corp., a petroleum refinery in Lima, Ohio, has paid $969,182 in back wages to 173 workers for unpaid overtime compensation after the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division determined the company had violated the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

"Employers must give their workers the fair and proper compensation to which they are entitled,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “That is the law. My department is committed to ensuring that it is followed, and we will continue to hold violators accountable.”

The investigation, which covered the period from March 2007 through March 2009, found that Husky Energy was not paying time and one-half the employees' regular rates for work weeks in excess of 40 hours. The violations began when Husky Energy changed eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts for some of its workers, which resulted in alternating workweeks of 60 and 24 hours. Instead of paying time and one-half an employee's regular rate for the resulting overtime hours, the company established an "adjusted" rate whereby all these hours were compensated at the same rate. A second violation was found involving the employer not including a shift differential in the overtime pay. An employer is not required by law to provide a shift differential, but if one is paid then it must be included as part of the employee's regular rate of pay for purposes of computing overtime.

The company agreed to pay the $969,182 in back wages to its employees and to establish bona fide rates upon which time and one-half for overtime hours would be calculated in the future. The company also agreed to include the shift differentials in the regular rate for purposes of calculating overtime in the future.

The act requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked more than 40 per week, unless otherwise exempt. For more information about the FLSA, visit www.dol.gov/whd/ or call the division's toll-free helpline, 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

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