- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - A federal court has ordered a Peabody cleaning contractor to pay $1 million in back pay and damages to its workers for violating federal wage laws.

The U.S. Department of Labor says Ward’s Cleaning Service Inc. went to great lengths to avoid paying its workers overtime, including directing employees to use multiple timecards with different names, altering timecards, paying employees with checks made out to false names, and paying employees in cash.

Ward’s, which provides night cleaning crews, housekeepers and dishwashers to about 85 hotels and restaurants in the Boston area, was also ordered to pay a nearly $164,000 penalty.

The money will go to 149 employees, ranging from $40 to $43,000 apiece.

Ward’s said it has since replaced scheduling staff and changed the way it pays workers.

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