DOL Initiative Recovers Over $1M in Back Wages for Gas Station Workers
November 25, 2011
Our Chino Hills labor and employment attorneys have been reading about the recent multi-year initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) focusing on the gas station industry in New Jersey--where the division uncovered widespread noncompliance with the wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including minimum wage, overtime compensation, and record keeping violations.
According to the DOL press release, the WHD investigated 74 gas station facilities throughout the state during fiscal year 2011, and recovered $1,014,895 in back wages for 295 employees who experienced wage and hour violations and did not receive fair payment for their work.
The DOL investigation revealed that 69 of the gas stations had the BP brand, and the non-BP stations whose operators also owned BP stations were found to have similar FLSA violations.
The FLSA violations were found to include paying workers below the federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, paying straight time for all hours worked with no regard to the FLSA overtime requirements, and paying employees cash wages which were "off the books" instead of properly maintaining the records of all employee work hours, wages, and conditions of employment--a requirement under the FLSA.
The WHD is continuing to conduct comprehensive inspections within the establishments, focusing on employment practices, payroll records, and employee interviews, to ensure that proper labor standards are being applied among the operators, facility owners, franchisees and other businesses associated with the gas stations. The WHD will also perform unannounced facility investigations, closely monitor employers who are suspected of committing violations, and potentially pursue litigation with the DOL's attorney.
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis stated that the DOL's findings reveal a consistent culture of noncompliance in New Jersey gas stations--a behavior that will not be tolerated by the department--as under the FLSA employers are legally obligated to compensate their employees for all hours worked.
As our Temecula employment attorney blog discussed in a previous entry, the FLSA requires that all workers covered by the act are paid at least the federal minimum wage, along with one and one-half times their normal pay rates for any time worked over forty hours in a week. The DOL states that "hours worked" include the time an employee must be on duty for employment, or on the employer's premises or at any other place of work prescribed by the employer--from the start of the initial work activity to the end of the final work activity. The FLSA also requires that employers keep accurate records of each employee's hours worked, wages and other work conditions.
In Costa Mesa, Dana Point, and Fountain Valley, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC today.
US Labor Department enforcement initiative recovers more than $1 million in back wages for 295 New Jersey gas station workers, U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, November 22, 2011
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