Jimmy started working at The Prestige Country Club when he was sixteen and still in high school. For several years he worked in the snack bar and then waited tables in the club’s dining room. But his first love was golf and when offered a position with the golf operation’s outside staff, he jumped at the chance.
Outgoing, friendly, and always reliable, the golf professional staff could count on Jimmy to work whenever needed, frequently covering shifts for others who called off at the last minute. He was one of those rare individuals who stayed busy any time the course was slow or when waiting for the last few groups to come in off the course on summer evenings. Any time he had spare moments Jimmy was policing the practice tee, picking the range, or detailing golf cars.
Over the years through his hard work, dedication, and outstanding attitude, he became one of management’s most appreciated employees and was selected the club’s employee of the month on a number of occasions. When Bob, the club’s long-serving outside manager finally retired to free golf for life in central Florida, Jimmy was the natural choice to replace him. It was an easy decision for Tom, the Director of Golf, as Jimmy was well-versed in the operation requiring little if any training, was a great ambassador for members and guests, and seemed to have a knack for recruiting the best prospects to work on the outside staff. Everyone from the golf shop to the GM’s office were thrilled with the choice and the members loved the story of a dedicated young man working his way up through the ranks to a management position.
In the ensuing years the outside staff functioned so smoothly that no one gave the operation another thought. So when the club was contacted by the Department of Labor, it took everyone – the club board, the General Manager, and the Director of Golf by complete surprise.
As the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation unfolded, it turned out that Jimmy, in an effort to control his section overtime, had worked a “deal” with his employees that he would promise them paid time off in future pay periods in lieu of receiving overtime. The arrangement worked well for Jimmy, allowing him to eliminate overtime while ensuring his section was well-staffed for any contingency. He kept track of his promised time off informally in a notebook he kept and generally kept his staff happy with the arrangement.
But the “deal” went south after he was forced to fire Jerry for a variety of infractions including repeated tardiness, calling off on a three separate occasions, and the final straw – pilfering range balls. Jerry felt aggrieved, particularly when Jimmy refused to “pay” him for the time off he was owed. Jerry was determined to “get even” and contacted the Department of Labor.
During the investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, Jimmy said he was not aware that his actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and that he was just continuing a practice that Bob, his predecessor, had instituted to control overtime.
To make a long story short: The investigation revealed that the club had been violating the FLSA for at least 12 years going back to Bob’s time as outside manager. They also found similar violations in golf course maintenance. The club was ordered to pay back wages to all identified employees, current and former, for the past three years; these payments amounted to over $127,000. In addition, given the duration of the violations and the fact that they were found in multiple departments, the club was fined $10,000.
Collateral damage: The club’s board was appalled at the lapse in management oversight of such a basic labor law requirement. The Director of Golf’s annual bonus was withheld for two years and the General Manager was discharged for cause.
Lessons learned: The “deal” wasn’t a deal for anyone involved. All managers need to know the basic requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employer is responsible for ensuring all managers are properly trained in the basics of the FLSA.
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