Posted on

More than 7,500 workers at a Pennsylvania battery manufacturer are owed $22,250,000 in back wages, a federal jury ruled Wednesday.

The award is the largest ever handed down under the Fair Labor Standards Act and comes after the Department of Labor filed suit in 2018 on behalf of workers at risk of lead exposure said East Penn Manufacturing Company failed to pay for the time required to shower, change into and change out of uniforms.    

The jury found that the Maxatawny Township factory violated the FLSA by failing to pay overtime from October 2014 through September 2017. 

The initial complaint by an East Penn employee was made over seven years ago.

“The employee complaint that was made over seven years ago has been vindicated. We would not be here if a single employee out in East Penn hadn’t complained to OSHA that he wasn’t getting enough time to shower at the end of the day,” Department of Labor solicitor Oscar Hampton told The Morning Call newspaper.

The award, which is still eligible to be appealed by either party, is a fraction of the $214 million total amount that the company claims was sought by the Department of Labor.

“We are pleased that the jury saw the government’s overreaching in this case … In the damages portion of the trial, the jury’s various findings are a rejection of 90% of the government’s wage claim because the jury agreed with us that East Penn did not willfully violate the FLSA and rejected the government’s unsupported high time estimates,” said Michael Mueller, who led the East Penn defense team, according to the Reading Eagle newspaper.

The company itself defended its interpretation of the law and the pay given to its employees.

“As a company, it stands behind the time paid to employees to put on and take off uniforms and to shower. The company believes it provided proper compensation for these activities and was fair in determining the reasonable time required to perform them,” East Penn Manufacturing said in a statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *