WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor said on Wednesday it has obtained a temporary restraining order against BabyVision Inc., a maker of infant apparel, to stop its owners from intimidating and retaliating against employees who are cooperating in a federal investigation.
Federal labor officials opened an investigation of BabyVision, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based company, in July to determine whether it was complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
During the investigation, employees of the company told investigators that Malti Shah, a company vice president and part owner, instructed them to hide from investigators and provide false information about their work hours and timekeeping procedures.
Shah also allegedly threatened to fire employees if they cooperated with federal labor investigators.
“Threatening workers with retaliation not only obstructs a lawful investigation; it has a chilling effect on workers, effectively robbing them of the ability to speak for themselves and testify truthfully about their working conditions,” said Sonia C. Rybak, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division’s assistant district director. “Such treatment of workers is illegal, plain and simple, and must halt.”
Under the temporary restraining order, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, BabyVision, Malti Shah and Shreenivas Shah — cofounder and president, according to news reports and a LinkedIn account — are prohibited from terminating and retaliating or discriminating against employees who have spoken with investigators, instructing employees not to speak with or provide false information to investigators and obstructing the investigation.
The order also requires them to allow an agency official to provide employees with oral and written statements about their right to speak with investigators without fear of retaliation and provide the DOL with a seven-day notice of intent to terminate employment.