MIAMI – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $901,625 in back wages and liquidated damages for 75 workers of a Florida grocery store enterprise after finding their employer wrongly exempted them from eligibility for overtime pay.The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined La Primavera Store Inc. – operating as La Primavera Supermarket in Fort Pierce, Bradenton and Sarasota – incorrectly categorized the affected employees as overtime exempt and did not pay them the required time-and-one-half rate for hours over 40 in a workweek, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.Investigators found the employees did not meet certain criteria for exemption, including being paid at least $684 per week on salary, conducting managerial duties such as directing the work of two or more full-time employees regularly and having the authority to hire and fire employees.“Employers who misapply exemptions and deny hard-working people all of their earned wages make it harder for workers to provide for themselves and their families,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel Cronin in Miami. “Under federal law, employers are responsible for making sure they comply with regulations that protect workers’ rights to their full wages, benefits and protections.”In addition to wage violations, the division learned La Primavera Store employed two 15-year-old employees to work outside of legally allowed hours, in violation of federal child labor regulations. Specifically, the employer employed the young workers past 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1 and more than 18 hours during school weeks. The division assessed the employer with a $1,582 civil money penalty to address the child labor violations.“Learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up – but we must protect children and ensure their first jobs do not interfere with their education or well-being,” added Cronin. “The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for developmental experiences but limits the work hours of 14- and 15-year-old workers and provides for penalties when employers do not follow the law.”As a result of investigations like these across the state, the Wage and Hour Division is attempting to locate more than 14,000 Florida workers owed more than $6.5 million it has recovered from employers. People who believe they may be owed back wages collected by the division should use its Workers Owed Wages search tool to determine if they are owed back wages.Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including information about protections for young workers on the department’s YouthRules! website. Through the YouthRules! 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.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). The division also offers online resources for employers, such as a fact sheet on Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements.Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android or iOS Timesheet App for free in English and Spanish.
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