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DOL Obtains Restraining Order Against Connecticut Employers that Retaliated Against Workers Who Cooperated With Wage and Hour Investigation

On August 20th, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the agency has a restraining order against a Connecticut bakery and its owner. Padaminas Ny Bakery II—a Danbury, CT-based company—allegedly threatened to unlawfully retaliate against workers that cooperated with an investigation into purported wage and hour violations. Here, our Connecticut wage and hour lawyers provide a more detailed review of the allegations raised against the Fairfield County bakery. 

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Allegations: Connecticut Business Owner Threatened to Fire Employees   

The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor initiated a wage and hour investigation into the workplace practice of Padaminas Ny Bakery II and its owner Pedro Coelho. Among other things, federal regulators were reviewing allegations that the employer failed to comply with the requirements of the FLSA, which include minimum wage and overtime laws. The DOL’s complaint states that Mr. Coelho had two separate meetings with his staff after learning of the wage and hour investigation. During these meetings, the Danbury, CT employer threatened: 

  1. To fire workers who cooperate with the DOL; and
  2. To report undocumented workers who cooperate to federal immigration authorities. 

Beyond that, the employer also permanently “blacklisted” a former worker at the bakery who he believed was the one who reported the suspected wage and hour violations. The DOL has now obtained a restraining order from a federal court in Connecticut strictly prohibiting the employer from retaliating against any employee who cooperates with the wage and hour investigation.  

Employees Have a Legal Right to Report Wage and Hour Violations 

State and federal laws protect workers in Connecticut against retaliation. Workplace retaliation occurs when an employee suffers some form of negative consequences—pay cut, suspension, termination, etc.—because they exercised a legally protected right. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) bars retaliation against workers who cooperate with wage and hour investigations. Employers are prohibited from: 

  • Terminating workers who report violations or cooperate with investigations;
  • Harassing employees who report violations or cooperate with investigations; 
  • Using a worker’s immigration status against them to deter cooperation with authorities; or
  • Making any threats of retaliation against workers who cooperate with regulators. 

All workplace retaliation cases must be taken seriously. You should be able to report misconduct by an employer without fear of retribution. If you were punished by your employer for reporting a wage and hour violation or cooperating with a wage and hour investigation, contact an experienced Connecticut retaliation attorney for immediate help. Your rights were likely violated. 

Speak to Our Connecticut Wage and Hour Claims Lawyers Today

At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Connecticut employment law attorneys know how to hold employees accountable for wage and hour violations. We also have deep experience representing workers in complex retaliation claims. If you were underpaid in violation of state or federal law, we can help. Contact us now for a fully private review of your case. With offices in Hartford and New Haven, we handle wage and hour claims throughout Connecticut.