BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Gas-station and convenience-store retailers in three states will pay approximately $240,000 in back wages, damages and civil penalties for separate violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Lakhwinder Gill, the owner of three Buffalo, N.Y.-area gas stations, has paid a total of $84,000 in back wages and damages to 41 employees after an investigation by the Buffalo office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
Gill will also pay $1,000 in civil monetary penalties.
Investigators found that Gill violated the minimum-wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements of the FLSA.
- Failed to pay some employees overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week, including one who regularly worked more than 70 hours a week.
- Failed to pay some employees for all the hours that they worked, including time spent in training and in performing work before and after their scheduled shifts.
- Required employees to pay for cash register shortages and damaged or missing merchandise, such as stolen gas, errors in printing lottery tickets and missing merchandise. Making deductions from wages for these items resulted in minimum wage and overtime violations.
- Failed to combine the hours worked by one employee at two locations of the business when determining when overtime was due.
- Falsified time records to create the appearance that employees did not work overtime even though some employees regularly worked more than 40 hours per week.
The consent judgment includes the following gas stations:
- Angola Food Mart Inc. (Mobil), Angola, N.Y., will pay 32 employees $26,671 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
- LHP Food Mart Inc. (Valero), Buffalo, will pay eight employees $15,247 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
- Lake Shore Mini Mart Inc. (Mobil), Hamburg, N.Y., will pay one employee $81 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
The judgment also requires the employer to verbally inform all of their employees in English, and in any other language spoken by the workers, of their rights under the FLSA, the terms of the judgment and their rights to cooperate with an investigation without fear of retaliation.
Six convenience stores, all under common ownership, doing business as Arco ampm in the Sacramento, Calif., area, will pay $132,000 in unpaid overtime and damages to workers after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation:
- Lodi Oil Inc., Lodi
- Kamboj Oil Inc., West Sacramento
- Wraich Petroleum Corp., Sacramento
- Broadway Petroleum Inc., Sacramento
- Mehroke LLC, Orlanda
- Sacramento Petroleum Inc., North Highlands
Investigators with the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division found the employer violated the overtime pay requirement of the FLSA by paying workers straight time rates for overtime hours. The Arco ampm franchisee provided investigators with falsified payroll records to create the appearance of compliance. In addition to paying straight time for overtime hours, the employer also failed to pay workers for travel time between locations when they worked at multiple sites, resulting in unpaid hours and further overtime violations.
The employer will pay $66,075 in overtime back wages found due and an equal, additional amount in damages totaling $132,150 to 47 employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in federal court to recover an estimated $23,702—representing $11,851 in unpaid overtime wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages for at least 13 current and former employees of four travel plazas and gas stations in northern Indiana. The suit names Rinky Sharma and Bobby Singh, the co-owners of the various companies operating the travel plazas and gas stations:
- SkyExpress Travel Plaza Inc., doing business as Plaza 30
- Sky Petroleum Inc., doing business as Govertown Travel Plaza and Michigan City Grocery
- Aman Group LLC, doing business as Marathon Stop and Shop
An investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found the defendants violated the FLSA by:
- Failing to pay overtime at time and one-half for all hours employees worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Investigators determined the employer paid one worker a set salary per week, regardless of the numbers of hours worked. The employee did not meet the criteria to be considered exempt from overtime requirements.
- Paying servers overtime at one and one-half times their direct cash wages of $2.13 per hour rather than the legally required rate of one and one-half times the full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
- Failing to combine the hours of employees who worked as both a server and cashier in the same workweek when determining if overtime was due, instead paying for each task separately, at straight time.
- Failing to maintain accurate payroll records including hours worked and rates of pay.
The FLSA requires that employers pay covered, nonexempt employees at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. As a general rule, the FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.