SAN DIEGO — A San Diego contractor was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages and liquidated damages for over 100 employees, the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday.

Officials say Watkins Environmental Inc. denied its construction workers rightful overtime and minimum wages. The contractor also did not pay hourly employees for pre-work time spent preparing for jobs and attending required training, the department explained in a news release.

Investigators determined this led to minimum wage and overtime violations. The department also says Watkins Environmental Inc. did not have accurate or complete employee records as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“The violations found in this investigation are all-too-common in the construction industry, and the U.S. Department of Labor will hold employers accountable for not paying employees their legally earned wages,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Min Park-Chung in San Diego. “Employers who withhold workers’ wages make it harder for their employees to make ends meet. At the same time, these employers gain an unfair advantage over industry competitors who abide by the law.”

A total of 125 affected employees retrieved back wages which collectively totaled $181,722, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages, the department confirmed. On top of that, Watkins Environmental was required to pay $28,462 in civil money penalties, according to officials.

This contractor provides commercial and residential asbestos, paint and lead removal, mold remediation, and demolition services in San Diego and the surrounding areas.