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Judge: Florence Hotel Owners Must Pay $119,000 to Employees

The owners of a Florence hotel will pay a total of $119,434 to 43 employees after a ruling from U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Covington this week.

Shivam Hospitality operated the Super 8 Motel on Dream Street which, as of January, changed its name to the Florence Astor Hotel. The hotel was the scene of a shootout with police in December in which the gumnan, a teen from Covington, killed himself after firing upon an officer.

An investigation found that from July 26, 2012 until January 5, 2015, Shivam Hospitality and its owners, Mahesh Nichani and Saurabh Taneja, misclassified their housekeeping, laundry, front desk, and maintenance staff as independent contractors rather than as employees, denying them minimum wage and overtime compensation as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Additionally, the employers did not maintain accurate time and attendance records.

Judge Bunning determined that the Shivam would pay the more than $119,000 to the employees as back wages and an additional amount in liquidated damages. Shivam will also be under a permanent injunction to ensure future compliance with the federal law. The original complaint alleged that Shivam violated the anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA by intimidating and retaliating against employees who were cooperating with the investigation which was conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's Louisville District Office and litigated by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Nashville.

“Shivam Hospitality deliberately misclassified these low-wage workers as independent contractors, denying them the pay and protections they rightfully earned,” said Karen Garnett, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Louisville, in a statement. “This consent judgment demonstrates that the agency will use every tool available to ensure that employees are properly classified and receive the wages they are due, and sends a clear message that retaliating against employees who cooperate with investigations will not be tolerated.”

-Staff report