INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis security company paid $370,459 in back wages and damages to 215 workers following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Protection Plus, located on Lynhurst Drive on the west side, also had to pay a $69,540 civil penalty following a court order.
The security company employs security guards and off-duty police officers at well-known agencies and businesses like Citizens Energy, the Marion County Public Health Department, Indianapolis Airport Authority, Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Indiana State Fair Commission. They also employ people to work big-name events like Colts games, conventions, and COVID-19 vaccine sites.
For example, WRTV Investigates found Protection Plus working security at health department COVID-19 vaccine sites at library branches, like Martindale Brightwood.
The U.S. Department of Labor reviewed records from May 2018 to January 2021 and found Protection Plus did not pay overtime to some employees for hours over 40 in a workweek, and when they did pay overtime, the company failed to accurately compute it.
Protection Plus failed to maintain accurate payroll records and their actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the DOL.
WRTV Investigates has uncovered this is not the first time Protection Plus has been in trouble with the federal government.
In 2018, Protection Plus paid 158 workers $98,949 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages to 158 employees.
They also paid $25,000 in civil money penalty for the willful nature of their violations, according to the DOL.
“The company did not change their pay practices after our 2018 investigation and did not pay employees the wages they were due,” Wage and Hour District Director Patricia Lewis in Indianapolis explained. “Employers must understand these failures hurt workers and their families by denying them the wages they count on to meet their needs. These illegal practices may damage their ability to retain and recruit the workers required for their operations.”
State records show Protection Plus has been in business since at least 1990, and Marie Stanley is listed as the president of the company.
Protection Plus is a certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise, city records show.
However, the U.S. Department of Labor names Raymond Stanley in its complaint.
Stanley managed and supervised employees, set employee pay rates and set employee work schedules, according to the U.S. Department of Labor complaint.
WRTV Investigates emailed and called the company and its attorney, but no one responded, so we showed up at their office.
WRTV: I'd like to talk to Raymond Stanley. We are with WRTV Channel 6. We've been trying to reach him. Is he here right now?
EMPLOYEE: He’s not available.
WRTV: I'm Kara with WRTV Channel 6. I'm going to leave my business card. Is there somebody else we could speak with?
EMPLOYEE: No unfortunately not. I'm sorry. We just work in the office. I apologize.
WRTV: Ok, thank you so much.
Most entities that contract with Protection Plus, like the Marion County Public Health Department, told us they had no idea about the Department of Labor’s actions against them in 2018 and 2022.
Impacted employees were notified, however, there’s no requirement for defendants like Protection Plus or the Department of Labor to notify agencies they contract with.
“The Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) was unaware of this lawsuit or this consent decree prior to being contacted by you,” said Curt Brantingham, a spokesperson for the health department.
A spokesperson for Lucas Oil Stadium’s operator said they have not had any issues with Protection Plus in the past.
“We became aware of the DOL action at about the same time as you provided us with the information,” said Monica Brase, a spokesperson for the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium. “None of the personnel working for PPI at Lucas Oil Stadium were adversely impacted by the practices cited by the DOL. We will remain vigilant to ensure that that remains the case in addition to looking to the DOL to notify us should PPI's personnel working at Lucas Oil Stadium be adversely impacted by pay practices.”
In preparation for the state fair event, the Indiana State Fair Commission used two Protection Plus workers to supplement its larger security staff who help with escorting vendors and directing traffic, as well as unlocking gates and doors.
“We expect all vending partners to adhere to state and federal laws, and our contractual agreement does include terms specific to overtime -- we expect those terms to be honored in compensating their employees,” Indiana State Fair operations said in a statement to WRTV.
WRTV found some Protection Plus contracts expire this year, while others do not expire until 2025.
Citizens Energy says upon learning of the federal action against Protection Plus, they are “conducting further research” and “exploring other service options.”
Dan Considine, a spokesperson for Citizens Energy, said the company awarded a facilities security contract to Protection Plus in May 2022.
“The scope of work runs through September 2023,” Considine said in an email to WRTV. “Additionally, operations uses Protection Plus for traffic control on some of its projects. Citizens became aware of a consent order against Protection Plus, informally from a third party vendor, after the security contract was awarded.”
The Indianapolis Airport Authority also provided a statement to WRTV regarding its contract with Protection Plus, which expires in 2025.
“The IAA was not aware of U.S. DOL's action when this contract was awarded in May 2022,” read the statement. “The airport will continue to use Protection Plus as needed, as well as other companies under contract to provide similar services."
WRTV Investigates spoke with several Protection Plus employees off the record who did not want to be identified for fear of losing their jobs.
They told us they hope the compensation issues have been fixed for good.