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Smithtown auto body shop to pay $400,000 to settle wage claims

Bi-County Auto Body, at 400 E. Main St. in Smithtown, has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle federal wage-violation charges. Photo Credit: Google Maps

A Smithtown auto body shop has agreed to pay $400,000 in back wages and damages to settle federal charges that it failed to pay 49 current and former employees overtime, the U.S. Labor Department announced Tuesday.

Bi-County Auto Body has agreed to pay $185,000 in back wages, an equal amount in damages, and $30,000 in civil penalties to settle Labor Department charges that it failed to pay...

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A Smithtown auto body shop has agreed to pay $400,000 in back wages and damages to settle federal charges that it failed to pay 49 current and former employees overtime, the U.S. Labor Department announced Tuesday. 

Bi-County Auto Body has agreed to pay $185,000 in back wages, an equal amount in damages, and $30,000 in civil penalties to settle Labor Department charges that it failed to pay the workers overtime from at least July 2014 through April 2016. 

In a settlement a company neither admits nor denies guilt.

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The complaint and consent decree also name owner Paul Joseph Dill and Paul Jeremy Dill, his son. Paul Joseph Dill declined to comment. His son couldn't be reached for comment. The company's lawyer, John P. Ruggiero of Canfield Ruggiero in Garden City, also declined to comment. 

The settlement comes after the Labor Department sued the company last summer in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. The consent decree was approved by the court last week.

The complaint said the auto repair shop paid workers straight time in cash for every hour over 40 in a workweek. Federal labor law requires hourly employees to earn one and one-half times their regular hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours a week. 

The company “falsified the payroll records in an attempt to cover up the violations," the complaint said. But the body shop kept separate records indicating the actual hours worked and the cash payments made, the complaint said.

The business also violated overtime laws by deducting an hour a day for meal breaks "even though employees were often unable to take those breaks uninterrrupted by work," the Labor Department said. 

The employees typically started work between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and didn't finish until between 5 p.m and 7 p.m. They also "frequently”  worked four to six hours on Saturdays, the complaint said, resulting in workweeks that typically ranged from 42 to 60 hours.

The affected employees did detailing, glass replacements and collison repairs, the complaint said. Some also worked in the office.

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Bi-County is at least the second Long Island auto repair shop to settle federal wage violation charges this year. In April the department announced that Farmingdale Auto Collision  Inc. had agreed to pay $306,000 to settle claims that it failed to pay employees overtime.