Can you Afford this $250,000 Fine for Being Nice?


For years a contractor let their employees come in to the office, drink coffee, and “shoot the breeze” before work began. A disgruntled employee left the company and went to the Department of Labor to see how he could “get back” at the company. He told them about coming to the shop and not getting paid until the work day start at 8 AM.

The Department of Labor investigated and found that employees, in fact, were not being paid from the time they arrived. The proposed fine: $250,000.

I have no clue whether the Department of Labor will settle on a smaller figure or accept payment terms. The contractor just got his notice.

Say good-bye to profits this year. And, maybe even say goodbye to the company if the Department of Labor imposes the total fine and won’t accept payment terms.

Ok, perhaps you can afford this $35,000 fine instead.

A contractor had a Monday morning meeting each Monday. The technicians were not paid for the meeting. As in the first true story above, a disgruntled employee left the company and went to the Department of Labor. He found out that the company had to pay for meeting time and said that he wasn’t paid.

The Department of Labor investigated. They looked at all of the time sheets for the past three years (the law in Georgia). Sure enough. Technicians were required to be at the meeting and were not paid for it.

Each technician got 156 hours of back pay plus interest (52 hours per year for 3 years). On top of the technician payments, the Department of Labor levied a $35,000 fine.

You can’t afford either fine. And, disgruntled employees will go to find what they can to get back at your company. These are two examples.

Follow the rules in your state: Most states require that you pay them from the time they arrive at your office to the time they leave your office. This means if they come back in the afternoon to do paperwork, get parts, or “hang out”, you have to pay them.

The days of letting employees come in early or stay late are over. The days of employees not getting paid for meeting or going to training on their own time are over. Just one disgruntled employee can cost you thousands of dollars in profit or put your company out of business.