Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 | 9:30 p.m.
A Las Vegas limousine company has been fined $232,317 for illegally withholding pay from nearly 500 employees, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday.
An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that limousine and shuttle bus service Executive Las Vegas made improper payroll deductions late last year for items including uniforms, fuel, repairs, drug tests, badges, water cups and cash shortages that caused 479 commission-based drivers to fall below the minimum wage.
The investigation, helmed by the division’s Las Vegas district office, also determined that the company used incorrect calculations to measure whether employee tips exceeded the company’s minimum wage obligation. Doing so resulted in some employees receiving less than minimum wage pay during some workweeks.
The department also cited the company for automatically deducting an hour for lunch regardless of whether an employee took it, resulting in under-reported work hours.
“Employers need to understand and comply fully with labor laws that apply to their businesses. They must ensure employees receive the wages they deserve,” Gaspar Montanez, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Las Vegas, said in a statement.
Jim Jimmerson, a local attorney who co-owns the business, said that while Executive did make some mistakes with regards to certain employees’ compensation, the company cooperated with the Department of Labor to resolve the issue. Jimmerson added that Executive offers employees more than minimum wage and opportunities for significant gratuities and other benefits, and that the company did not deliberately withhold payment from its employees.
“It is unfair ... to suggest that Executive did not intentionally pay its employees at least a minimum wage, and indeed the proof evidenced that many employees deliberately underreported their tips in order to create a false claim of entitlement to minimum wage,” Jimmerson said.
Under federal law, employers can pay tipped employees $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount combined with tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25.