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A Texas furniture store franchisee has agreed to pay $216,000 in back wages, damages and penalties to settle a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit for allegedly failing to properly pay overtime wages to its employees.
Lubbock, Texas-based Han Nara Enterprises L.P., a franchisee of Arcadia, Wisconsin-based Ashley HomeStores Ltd. that operates seven furniture stores in New Mexico and Texas, agreed to pay $161,221 in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 500 employees, said the Labor Department in a statement issued Monday.
The company will also pay $55,000 in civil money penalties for committing “willful and repeat” violations under terms of the settlement, the department said in its statement.
Han Nara also agreed to five years of semiannual audits by an independent third-party auditor to ensure its ongoing compliance.
The DOL said its wage-and-hour division has investigated Han Nara four times in the past nine years, and each time found that it had failed to pay its employees properly.
In the most recent investigation, investigators found that to avoid paying overtime, the company misapplied an exemption from the Fair Labor Standard Act’s overtime requirement intended for commissioned sales employees, and altered time cards to reduce employees’ hours and pay.
The company’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
Home décor retailer Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. is contesting another significant fine from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for ongoing workplace safety violations.