SPOKANE, WA– An extensive U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the pay and employment practices at 23 stores operated by a Spokane-based supermarket chain has recovered more than $350,000 in back wages and damages for 602 employees and assessed penalties of $72,862 for the employer’s willful violations.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered Spokane’s Rosauers Supermarkets Inc. did not pay employees for meal breaks less than 20 minutes long, as required, and failed to include evening premium pay, hazard pay and non-discretionary bonuses in regular pay rates when calculating overtime wages. Investigators found these violations at 16 stores in Washington, four in Montana, two in Idaho and one in Oregon.
The division also learned the employer violated federal child labor regulations by employing five minors, ages 16- and 17-years old, to operate a powered scrap paper baler and paper box compactor at its Ridgefield, Washington store.
“Too often, our investigators find grocery industry employers taking advantage of these essential workers by failing to pay them correctly,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carrie Aguilar in Portland, Oregon. “In addition to denying hundreds of employees pay for short meal breaks, Rosauers Supermarkets jeopardized the safety of children by employing them to illegally operate dangerous machines.”
The company operates stores as Rosauers Supermarkets, Super1Foods and Huckleberry’s Natural Market.
Specifically, the division identified violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and recordkeeping requirements at stores in Hood River, Oregon; in Lewiston and Moscow, Idaho; in Bozeman, Kalispell, Libby and Missoula, Montana; and in Colfax, Colville, Ellensburg, Pullman, Ridgefield, Spokane, Walla Walla and Yakima, Washington. Investigators found the child labor violations at the Ridgefield location.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to enforce laws that protect workers’ rights to be paid fully and to prevent young employees from being employed in dangerous jobs. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for developmental experiences but restricts the employment of young workers in certain jobs and provides for penalties when employers do not follow the law,” Aguilar added.
In addition to recovering $175,363 in unpaid overtime wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, the penalties assessed by the department included $17,820 for repeated child labor violations. The division cited the employer for similar child labor infractions at 10 stores in 1993.
The YouthRules! initiative promotes positive and safe work experiences for teens by providing information about protections for young workers to youth, parents, employers and educators. Through this initiative, the U.S. Department of Labor and its partners promote developmental work experiences that help prepare young workers to enter the workforce. The Wage and Hour Division has also published Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers to help employers comply with the law.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of where they are from. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – free and now available in Spanish – to track hours and pay.