SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Sacramento-area pallet manufacturer was ordered to pay $216,674 in unpaid overtime wages and damages after it illegally failed to pay overtime rates to employees.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Martinez Pallets, which has location in Rio Linda and West Sacramento, did not pay workers at the legally required one-an-a-half-times rate to 31 employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week.

The Department of Labor said the company’s owner Miguel Arturo Cruz willfully avoided paying overtime by paying workers their first 40 hours on one check and then either in cash or with a separate check paid them for any additional hours worked at their regular rate instead of the 1.5x rate.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to hold employers accountable for wage theft, particularly in this case where we found Martinez Pallets deliberately attempted to evade the law to avoid paying overtime wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Cesar Avila in Sacramento, California. “Employers are legally responsible for ensuring they pay workers their full wages and may face costly consequences when our investigators find they fail to uphold that obligation.”

According to the Department of Labor, Martinez Pallets also allowed employees under the age of 18 to drive forklifts and operate woodworking machinery, both of which minors are legally prohibited from doing as they are considered hazardous occupations.

“Assigning minor-aged workers hazardous tasks endangers them and puts their lives and their futures at risk,” Avila added. “Federal child labor laws include protections for young workers and penalties for employers who disregard them.”

Martinez Pallets also paid $14,407 in penalties for the child labor and willful overtime violations.