OKLAHOMA CITY – A recent U.S. Department of Labor investigation found a Shawnee, Oklahoma, gas station and convenience store made illegal deductions from workers’ pay for uniforms and cash register shortages that brought wages below the federally required minimum wage.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Modern Oil Co. – operating as Sparky’s Kwick Stop Stores – which required workers to pay for smocks, uniforms and cash register shortages – made deductions from employees’ pay for these items that reduced employee’s hourly rate of pay below $7.25 per hour, leading to Fair Labor Standards Act violations. The department recovered $166,073 for 732 workers.

“While the law permits employers to make certain deductions from pay, such as for uniforms, shortages or breakage, these deductions from pay must not reduce an employee’s wage rate to below the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour,” said Wage and Hour District Director Michael Speer in Oklahoma City. Low wage workers depend on every cent earned to make ends meet, and the law requires that they receive at least the federal minimum wage for every hour of work.”

Sparky’s Kwick Stop Stores signed an enhanced compliance agreement committing the employer to provide training, maintaining accurate records and ensuring only permissible deductions are made.

By law, if an employer requires the worker to bear the cost of uniforms, their rate of pay must not fall below the minimum wage or impact overtime compensation owed. 

In fiscal year 2021, the division identified more than $13.4 million in back wages owed to 14,734 retail industry workers. In its investigations, the division commonly finds violations related to the failure to pay minimum wage and overtime when required, illegal deductions, and failure to pay for time spent on work-related travel, or pre- and post-shift work. Investigations in fiscal year 2021 found, on average, nearly $1,212 for each employee due back wages. For retail cashiers, that is more than three times their earnings in a typical workweek. Learn more about back wages found for low-wage workers

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. The Division protects workers regardless of immigration status and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages.

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