SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 8, 2014

Peabody firm ordered to pay for unpaid overtime

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — PEABODY — A federal judge has ordered Peabody-based Ward’s Cleaning Service and its owner to pay more than $1 million in unpaid wages and overtime to employees, the Department of Labor announced this week.

The consent judgment also calls for the company and its owner, David Ward, to pay $163,900 in civil penalties and to take steps to change its payroll system.

An investigation found that over a 31/2-year period, the business, which provides cleaning services to about 85 hotels in Greater Boston, repeatedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay overtime for employees.

Employees would be instructed to fill out multiple time cards under different names, and would sometimes find that their time cards had been altered. Sometimes they were paid in cash.

The consent judgment affects about 149 employees.

“Employers who willfully underpay their employees and falsify records harm not only the employees and their families, but the business community as well,” said Carlos Matos, director of the division’s Boston office, in a press release announcing the judgment.

It’s the second time the company has faced such allegations. In 1993 the firm was ordered to pay $172,000 in back wages to employees for similar overtime violations.

The company will also be required to hire a qualified independent consultant to create a new payroll system and submit regular reports to the Department of Labor.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.