AURORA, IL – While workers at a local supermarket stocked shelves, operated cash registers and served customers Mexican hot foods and baked goods, their Aurora employer was denying them their hard-earned overtime pay for two years, the U.S. Department of Labor recently found.
After its investigation, the department’s Wage and Hour Division has recovered a total of $399,851 in back wages and liquidated damages for 49 workers at Supermercado Carrera, a family-owned supermarket.
Division investigators determined the supermarket’s operator paid several employees straight-time wages for overtime and shortchanged them of the legally required time and one-half premium for hours over 40 in a workweek. The employer also incorrectly classified some employees as exempt from overtime. These actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In addition to $199,925 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, Supermercado Carrera also paid $734 in civil money penalties the division assessed after investigators found that a minor-aged employee worked beyond permitted hours.
“The nearly $400,000 in back wages and damages our investigation recovered will make a significant difference in the lives of 49 workers and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Tom Gauza in Chicago. “Typically, small grocers employ low-wage and vulnerable workers likely unaware of their basic rights to the federal minimum wage and overtime pay. Workers in the U.S. have the right to be paid their full earned wages.”
In fiscal year 2022, the Wage and Hour Division’s office in Chicago recovered $6.4 million, in back wages and $647,000 in liquidated damages for more than 6,400 workers. Most commonly, the division found violations of overtime and minimum wage. In the first four months of fiscal year 2023, the office has recovered $1.6 million in back wages and $814,000 in liquidated damages for 1,182 workers.
“We continue to work with local worker’s advocacy groups, consulates and other community resources to educate workers about their rights. Failing to pay accurate wages is an issue across a myriad of industries,” Gauza added. “Employers or workers with questions should reach out to Wage and Hour for information.”
Learn about FLSA rules for the retail Industry.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, 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. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
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