U.S. court orders Lewes landscaper to pay $50,000 in damages

10 workers previously awarded $50,000 in overtime pay
April 22, 2022

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered a Lewes-based landscaping company and its owner to pay $50,000 in liquidated damages to 10 temporary workers.

Judge Maryellen Noreika imposed the damages March 28 against DeVilbiss Landscape Architects and its owner Paul DeVilbiss after a jury previously found DeVilbiss and his company were liable to pay $50,000 in back wages to the 10 workers. 

DeVillbiss Landscape Architects came under a Department of Labor investigation for allegations that workers were not paid for wages they were legally owed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The investigation found that DeVillbiss violated the FLSA by failing to pay overtime for more than a 40-hour work week. 

A jury trial was held in U.S. District Court in Wilmington from June 30 to July 2, where the company argued the workers were agricultural workers on a farm, exempt from FLSA protections. The Department of Labor countered that DeVillbiss was a landscaping company required to pay overtime under the FLSA.

A jury unanimously awarded the workers $50,000 in back pay, although it found the FLSA violation not willful. In a judgment following the verdict, Noreika awarded an additional $50,000 in liquidated damages, which will be placed in a special deposit account and distributed to the workers. 

Regional Solicitor of Labor Oscar Hampton said in a statement, “The U.S. Department of Labor vigorously pursued legal action to ensure DeVilbiss’ employees were properly compensated as required by the law. The department will continue to pursue litigation as deemed appropriate when employers fail to comply with the FLSA overtime requirements.”

A phone number for DeVilbiss Landscape Architects is no longer in service. DeVilbiss’ attorney, William Sullivan, said, “We are disappointed that liquidated damages were awarded in a case where the jury found that the violations of the FLSA were not willful, but we are respectful of the court’s decisions.”




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