A childcare center linked with Virginia Tech is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for possible violations of federal overtime laws. The Rainbow Riders Childcare Center in Blacksburg, Virginia is alleged to have not compensated some employees the federal overtime rate for work over 40 hours in a given week. The childcare center has been ordered to award back pay to employees wrongly considered “exempt” since 2009, and may also face additional monetary penalties. According to WSLS News, the center has already made changes to its payment model, including giving breaks for employees that are devoid of work responsibilities and forbidding employees from bringing work home.
The Center has not been formally fined or cited, as the investigation is still ongoing. It is believed by some that other childcare centers in the area would be investigated in the near future, but it is still unclear whether this was sparked by an employee’s report or the DOL’s initiative. The Rainbow Riders Childcare Center has 60 full-time and part-time employees and serves around 240 children. It has a five-year, $100,000 per year agreement with Virginia Tech for guaranteed slots for children of university employees and Corporate Research Park personnel.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hr) and overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 in a single workweek. Under the FLSA, some employees can be labeled as “exempt.” This means that if an employee fulfills certain criteria (usually management, but can also include home care workers, babysitters, etc.), he or she may be ineligible for overtime pay and other benefits. The FLSA includes exemptions for teachers, but in 2009 the definition of teacher changed to include less people. Due to this change, some employees should not have been considered “exempt” and should have been eligible to receive overtime pay.
Due to the confusing nature of labor laws on the federal and state levels, any employees and employers do not fully understand what the proper procedures are for things like overtime and minimum wage. If you believe that you may not be being compensated fairly by your employer, do not hesitate to contact an experienced overtime attorney to see if you could possibly seek back pay for underpayment or unpaid overtime.