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Ohio Co. Settles OT Charges

Ohio Co. Settles OT ChargesAmerican Sentry pays $29,000 in back wages

March 13, 2006

Washington, D.C., correspondent for

An Ohio-based mortgage company has agreed to pay back wages to its loan officers after an investigation by the Department of Labor revealed that the company’s policy of paying monthly commissions violated federal law.American Sentry has paid 51 present and former employees a total of $29,000 for minimum wage violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The act is the federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime pay standards. Back wages paid per employee ranged from $50 to $1600.

The loan officers were paid commissions on a monthly basis, and, in some weeks, were not paid the federal minimum wage for the hours they worked, according to a written statement from the department. The violations occurred from November 2003 to November 2005.

American Sentry’s president, Ed Clark, said the company was unaware its pay practices violated labor law, but as soon as it was contacted by the Department of Labor the company cooperated with the investigation, paid the back wages and agreed to comply with the government in the future.

“We want to do things the right way,” Clark said.

In keeping with the agency’s policy, Juan Solano, a labor department spokesman in the Chicago, Il. office, refused to disclose how it discovered that the violations had occurred. Solano said the employees had to receive at least the minimum wage on a work week basis. The employment law requires that covered employees be paid the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week. Employees who are paid commissions must receive at least the minimum wage, just as employees who are paid by the hour or by the piece, the agency said in a written statement.

While several mortgage companies in the recent past have been sued by private attorneys and are under investigation for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act‘s minimum wage and overtime requirements, Solano said that he wasn’t aware of any targeted enforcement by the agency of the industry’s pay practices.

Lisa D. Burden is a legal analyst for and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland. She is currently a freelance journalist who previously wrote for Institutional Investor publications and the Baltimore Daily Record.

e-mail Lisa at:

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