Crème de la Crème, a Denver-based child care provider with nationwide locations, is paying $41,440 in back wages to 354 current and former workers following violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division led the investigations and discovered violations at 21 day care centers in Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois. The systemic FLSA violations include failure to properly compensate overtime hours, which is hours worked past 40 in a workweek, after the company did not pay employees for hours at mandatory training courses and work performed before or beyond scheduled shift periods. The investigation even found employees were hired to teach soccer and tennis at the facility but were misclassified as independent contractors. This resulted in those employees being denied appropriate compensation. Crème de la Crème also did not maintain proper records of employees’ work hours and wages.

“Child care employees work long hours looking after children’s safety yet are often denied the wages and workplace protections guaranteed by law,” says Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the division in the Southwest. “We are committed to strengthening compliance in this industry, which is important not just for the workers but for all the families depending on them for quality child care services. We are pleased that these workers finally will be paid their rightful wages and, as demonstrated by our ongoing initiative, will continue to investigate Colorado child care providers to remedy violations and ensure sustained compliance with the law.”

The investigations came under a multiyear enforcement initiative regarding Colorado’s child care industry where prevalent FLSA noncompliance has been discovered. The division’s Denver District Office has carried on more than 100 investigations of child care providers in its jurisdiction since 2009. Among all investigated employers, 86 percent had violated FLSA, and approximately $195,000 in back wages owed to more than 800 workers was recovered. Other enforcement initiatives are occurring in Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas.

In part with the initiatives, the division is offering compliance assistance and education to employers and industry associations outlining the requirements of the FLSA and penalties of violations. Additionally, the division is reaching out to workers, employee associations, community organizations, state licensing agencies and other stakeholders to communicate the continuing initiative and promote compliance.

Under FLSA, covered employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked as well as time and one-half their regular rates. This includes commissions, bonuses and incentive pay for hours worked past 40 per week, and employers are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.