TAFTON, PA – A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found the owner of two Pike County companies violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying 65 workers their rightfully earned wages, resulting in the recovery of nearly $120,000 in back wages and damages.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Mohammad Tahir – owner and manager of Promised Land Truck Stop in Tafton and Whistle Stop convenience store in Greentown – violated FLSA minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements, resulting in a total of $59,690 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages owed to his employees. The division recovered $42,265 in back wages for 47 Promised Land Truck Stop workers and $17,424 in back wages for 18 Whistle Stop employees, plus an equal amount in damages.
The employer failed to pay workers at the Tafton location for time spent counting cash drawers and completing reports, and took deductions from workers’ pay for cash drawer shortages. By doing so, the employer paid workers less than the federal minimum wage. Tahir also did not pay any overtime when employees worked over 40 in a workweek, and did not maintain payroll and time records as required. Similarly, employees at the Greentown store were paid straight time with no overtime pay when they worked over 40 in a workweek. Investigators also found the employer paid several workers identified as assistant managers a fixed salary, with no overtime pay, in violation of the law. The employer also deducted pay from the assistant managers’ salaries when they worked fewer than 50 hours, and again failed to retain required records.
After the investigation, the department filed a complaint against the employer in court to resolve the violations. In a summary judgment, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania affirmed that the employer violated law and owed the amounts the department sought.
“The wages recovered for these low-wage workers will help them pay rent and put food on the table for their families,” said Wage and Hour District Director Alfonso Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to ensure that employers follow the law and create a level playing field for those competitors who pay their workers all of the wages they have rightfully earned.”
“Employers have a legal responsibility to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act. The U.S. Department of Labor continues to pursue appropriate and effective legal remedies, including filing suit in federal court, to ensure employees are paid for all their hard work and employers who violate the law come into compliance,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia.
Shalimar Distributors LLC operates as Promised Land Truck Stop and TAFS Corp. operates as Whistle Stop. Mohammad Tahir owns and manages both enterprises.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). 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.