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Arizona landscaping company ordered to pay $92,500 in back wages to employees

May 18, 2022 -  By

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered Artificial Grass Masters of Peoria — operating as Artificial Grass Masters and Sun Screens for Less — and owner Joshua Apodoca to pay $92,500 in back wages and $92,500 in liquidated damages to 66 employees. This order comes after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found the Phoenix-area landscaping company and its owner used illegal pay practices, lied to investigators and more.

The U.S. District Court’s judgment also requires the landscaping company and Apodaca to pay $15,000 in penalties for the willful nature of their violations.

“The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate retaliatory action and intimidation against workers. Employees have a legal right to be paid their wages in full, to seek the wages they have earned and to assist investigators without fear of harm, threats or harassment,” said Eric Murray, Wage and Hour Division district director. “Retaliation is a priority for the division, and we will use every tool available to enforce the law, prevent wage theft and address employer intimidation.”

Investigators determined the employer paid workers in cash and off-the-books, denied overtime pay, lied to investigators and intimidated workers. In addition to the back wages and damages, the consent judgment specifically prohibits Artificial Grass Masters and Apodaca from doing any of the following because of the employee’s assertion of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act:

  • Discharging or threatening discharge, laying off, not providing work.
  • Cutting employees’ work hours or wages.
  • Intimidating, including intimidating by brandishing firearms or other weapons.
  • Providing negative employment references or taking any steps to interfere with an employee’s application to work for another employer.
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