TULSA, OK – A federal investigation into the pay practices of a Tulsa security company has recovered $103,979, in back wages for 55 current and former employees denied their rights to overtime pay for hours over 40 in a workweek.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined that PHD Security Services LLLP employed security guards up to 45 hours per workweek without paying time and one-half the required rate of pay when the law requires. The division learned that the employer misunderstood its obligation and operated under an inaccurate belief about an industry standard and without regard to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“Employers must understand who is, and who isn’t an employee to avoid misclassifying employees as independent contractors. When a perceived industry standard is contrary to the law, employers must follow the law and correctly pay workers minimum wage and overtime,” explained Wage and Hour District Director Michael Speer in Oklahoma City. “The Wage and Hour Division routinely provides assistance and training to help employers understand and comply with federal labor laws and avoid the costly consequences of violations.”
In fiscal year 2021, the division identified more than $6 million in back wages owed to more than 5,300 guard services workers. In its investigations, the division commonly finds violations related to employers failing to pay overtime when required, misclassifying workers as independent contractors and not paying them for time spent on work-related travel, or pre- and post-shift work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in protective service occupations is projected to grow 2 percent from 2021 to 2031, slower than the average for all occupations; though slow, the increase is expected to result in about 72,600 new jobs over the decade. The median annual wage for this group was $46,590 in May 2021, which was slightly higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760.
“As employers continue to struggle to find the people they need to operate their businesses, those who fail to respect workers’ rights, including their right to receive their full wages, will find it more difficult to retain and recruit workers than those employers who do,” Speer said.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. The division protects workers regardless of immigration status and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages.