Tacoma roofing company accused of not paying workers for overtime

The federal government is taking a Tacoma-based roofing company to court, contending the business has stiffed employees out of overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

On Aug. 31, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez sued Guardian Roofing in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on behalf of 65 of its employees.

The complaint also names Guardian owners Aaron Santas and Matthew and Lori Swanson as defendants.

The lawsuit says Guardian, which provides roofing and waterproofing services across the Puget Sound region, forced some of its employees to work longer than 40 hours a week without compensating them for overtime.

Michael Reilly, an attorney for Guardian, said the company is prepared to fight.

“After more than 18 months of cooperation and dialogue with the Department of Labor, it became clear to us that we could not come to a satisfactory resolution of their issues outside a court of law,” Reilly said in an email to The News Tribune.

“We disagree with the substance of the DOL’s contentions and are prepared to take our case to court.

“Guardian Roofing prides itself in being a great place to work, as evidenced by one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry.”

The Labor Department contends in the lawsuit that between March 2011 and February 2014 Guardian forced roofers to report to one of its shops each morning and perform tasks there but didn’t begin compensating them until they arrived at their roofing job sites.

The lawsuit further alleges roofers were not compensated for their time traveling between jobs.

The complaint also says Guardian acted “willfully and repeatedly” and failed to maintain or turn over wage records to the Labor Department.

The lawsuit demands back wages and an equal amount in “liquidated damages” for the workers and asks a federal judge to order Guardian to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Reilly pointed out the company is rated an A-plus by the Better Business Bureau and boasts “one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry.”