A Georgia-based disaster relief company has been exposed for underpaying employees that aided in Hurricane Florence recovery efforts following a federal investigation. 

Athens-based MLU Services Inc. has been ordered by the US Labor Department to pay back $184,838 to 18 employees due to several wage and overtime law violations, according to a press release. 

Founded in 1999, MLU previously provided temporary housing to communities decimated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and California’s Paradise Fires in 2018 and 2019.

MLU paid employees a flat salary when they were eligible for overtime, an investigation by the Labor Department revealed. The law requires all companies to pay their employees hourly overtime wages once their hours exceed 40 per week.

“Employers must meet their obligation to pay their employees the wages they have legally earned,” says Richard Blaylock, the Labor Department’s Wage, and Hour Division district director.  

The investigation showed the company also underpaid it’s quality control inspectors and withheld fringe benefits. 

MLU was contracted by FEMA to help construct temporary homes following Hurricane Florence, however, some displaced residents were forced to wait from one to three months for the keys to the homes, the Wilmington’s Port City Daily reported.

FEMA blamed the extensive delay on “permitting issues.” Pender County Assistant Manager Chad McEwen told the Port City Daily the delays added, “insult to injury when you have a unit in your front yard, and for no reason explained to you, you can’t get into it because the contractor can’t coordinate the plumbing getting hooked up, or electrical fails five times.”

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