NJ Gas Station Owner to Pay Attendants $3M in Overtime Back Wages
March 8, 2013
In a new wage and hour lawsuit development that Costa Mesa-based attorney Vincent Howard has been watching, the U.S. Department of Labor has recently recovered $3 million in overtime back wages and liquidated damages for 417 gas station workers, after a DOL Wage and Hour Department (WHD) investigation discovered that Waseem Chaudhary, the owner of 72 New Jersey gas stations, and his company Daniyal Enterprises LLC, were responsible for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The WHD investigation reportedly found that the gas station employees often worked as much as 84 hours in a week, but did not receive any overtime compensation. The employees were paid on the payroll for only part of their work time, with other hours paid off the books to hide the overtime payment violations. The employer was also found to have failed to maintain accurate records of the employee work hours.
As Vincent Howard regularly discusses in Howard Law's Santa Ana wage and hour blog, under the FLSA, employers are required to pay nonexempt employees who are covered by the act at least $7.25, the federal minimum wage, for each hour, as well as one and one-half times their normal pay rates for any hours worked beyond forty in a week of work. The law also requires that the employees' work hours, wages and other employment conditions are properly maintained.
According to DOL acting labor secretary Seth D. Harris, this agreement returns the rightful wages to the gas station employees in one of only two states in the country that still mandate gas pumps that are full-service. Harris stated that all New Jersey gas station operators and owners should take note of this development and review their legal obligations and payroll practices to avoid this type of FLSA violation in the future--so vulnerable NJ gas station attendants who work long hours for low wages are not robbed of their legal right to fair payment.
Chaudhary agreed to pay $2 million in overtime back wages, along with $1 million in liquidated damages to the 417 gas station workers employed at his 72 New Jersey gas stations. The WHD also assessed $91,000 in civil money penalties against Chaudhary because of the willful nature of his repeated violations. The employer has reportedly agreed under the consent decree to take proactive measures in the future, including a monitoring program that will be supervised for three years at each gas station location.
According to the DOL, in 2012, the WHD conducted over 100 investigations focusing on FLSA compliance among New Jersey gas stations. These investigations were part of a multiyear enforcement initiative, and the WHD reportedly recovered over $2.3 million in back wages for over 500 gas station workers.
Vincent Howard and Howard Law's team of labor and employment attorneys are dedicated in helping individuals who have experienced FLSA violations, as well as California Labor Code violations in cities throughout Orange County. Contact Howard Law, PC today for a free consultation about your wage and hour issue.
US Labor Department obtains consent judgment to recover $3 million in back wages, damages for New Jersey gas station attendants, U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, March 7, 2013
NJ company to pay $3M in gas attendant OT lawsuit, ABC Local News, March 7, 2013
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