Roger Orullian of Utah worked for a tree-trimming and stump removal company, Diamond Tree Experts, that failed to pay him and another employee overtime. Instead of receiving time and one-half for hours over 40 in a workweek, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, they were paid their “straight time” wages.
The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation and determined that both workers were owed back pay. What happened next was dramatic — and illegal.
Diamond Tree Experts paid the back wages to Orullian and his coworker, according to a Labor Department news release, but then demanded both employees give the money back. When Orullian refused, he was fired.
“I really would have walked away, but when a prospective employer said that my former employer called him and said I tried to take money that didn’t belong to me, that’s when I knew something had to be done,” Orullian said. He filed a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division.
A second investigation found that the company again had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, this time by retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law. The Labor Department filed a lawsuit, and the court ordered Diamond Tree Experts to pay the back wages plus damages. Orullian received $19,025 in back pay and $22,000 in liquidated damages.