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Former SBA Small Business Person of the Year sued by U.S. Labor Department

Former Idaho Small Business Person of the Year Erin Yinger has been sued by the United States Department of Labor for paying 33 employees less than minimum wage and failing to pay overtime.

Yinger, who won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s annual award in 2010, stopped operating her Coeur d’Alene company, A New Hope Social Services, which is also named in the lawsuit, in November 2012, according to her social media profile.

The lawsuit, filed in the Idaho district of federal court, alleges Yinger and A New Hope violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying employees less than minimum wage and no overtime. It does not include information on how much employees were paid or the number of overtime hours in question.

Jose Carnevali, a spokesman for the Labor Department, said the department could not comment on the lawsuit or provide details while the case was still open.

Yinger could not be reached for comment. Phone numbers for both offices A New Hope operated have been disconnected.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Non-salaried employees who work more than 40 hours a week are required to receive 150 percent of their wages for any hours worked above the 40-hour cap, according to federal law.

A New Hope provided psychiatric services for patients – including counseling, psychological rehabilitation, service coordination, psychiatry and nursing – in the Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint areas. It was granted recognition by the SBA for rapid growth during the recession.

Bill Jhung, regional director of the Idaho Small Business Development Center in Post Falls, nominated Yinger for the award. He said at the time that A New Hope had become “a highly respected service provider in the region.”

The lawsuit asks for double the unpaid wages to be paid out to the 33 former employees named in the lawsuit, plus any other employees who are later identified by the Labor Department as being owed wages. It also asks for Yinger and A New Hope to pay the costs of the government lawsuit.

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