Judge Susan Richard Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota is requiring that Hawkins Tree and Landscaping Inc., a Shakopee, Minn., company, and its owners, Michael Hawkins and Dawn Hawkins, pay back wages as well as liquidated damages totaling to $478,000 to 57 current and former laborers, drivers, crew leaders and foremen of the company after violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Hawkins Tree and Landscaping and its owners are also set to pay $22,000 in civil money penalties.

"The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a serious threat to both workers, who are entitled to good and safe job, and to employers who obey the law and are undercut when others use illegal practices," says Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. "The Department of Labor is committed to remedying employee misclassification and ensuring compliance to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's work force."

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