NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – Some employees may not understand fully how federal law protects them if their employer fails to pay them as the Fair Labor Standards Act requires, as workers at two North Charleston-area food stores have learned.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Carniceria La Esperanza LLC in North Charleston and its sister store, Carniceria La Esperanza 2 LLC in Summerville, paid butchers flat salaries to cover all the hours they worked up to 54 in a workweek. The employer would then start paying overtime only when employees exceeded 54 hours. The FLSA requires overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

Investigators also found the two stores paid a weekly bonus to cashiers and butchers, but failed to include that bonus in the calculation when determining workers’ overtime rates. This exclusion resulted in the employer paying overtime at rates lower than those required by law. The employer also failed to maintain accurate records of the number of hours butchers worked, violating FLSA recordkeeping requirements.

The division recovered $78,613 in back wages for 27 workers to resolve the FLSA violations.

“These essential workers deserve to take home every penny of their hard-earned wages. Our experience in this industry indicates that these unlawful pay practices, and others like them, are all too common,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “Food store employers and employees who wish to learn more about their obligations and rights under these laws are encouraged to contact us for more information.”

Carniceria La Esperanza LLC and Carniceria La Esperanza 2 LLC offer groceries, meats and money transfer services.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’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.

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