When involved in a criminal investigation, the cover-up is usually worse than the underlying crime. Last month, a New Hampshire business owner learned this lesson the hard way when he pleaded guilty to charges based on his providing false information to federal Wage and Hour Division investigators during the course of an investigation of his company’s pay practices.
The owner’s construction company instructed employees not to record overtime hours worked. When asked about this practice during a DOL investigation, the owner stated that the employees in question never actually worked the overtime alleged in their complaint. When Wage and Hour uncovered evidence showing the falsity of this statement, the agency took the unusual step of working with the Department of Justice to bring federal obstruction of justice charges against the owner. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in March.
No matter how bad the consequences of a government investigation appear, lying to the investigators or attempting to conceal or alter business records compounds the problem. As this situation shows, government agencies do not react kindly to being lied to, and they have at their fingertips the considerable prosecutorial resources of the federal government to pursue employers who they believe have deliberately deceived them.