Three northern New Jersey supermarkets have paid more than $1.8 million in back wages and damages after federal investigators found they cheated their own employees after they worked overtime hours.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the pay practices of D & J Enterprise LLC, J & Y Giant LLC and Waldwick Farmers Market LLC, operating as Giant Farmers Market and operated by John Lee and Diana Lee, violated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The employers deliberately failed to pay required overtime rates to 226 employees who worked overtime at Giant Farmers Market stores in Hackensack, Oakland, and Waldwick.
Specifically, investigators determined the employers did the following:
- Paid some employees a day rate or salary, without any overtime pay for hours over 40.
- Paid other employees in checks for their first 40 hours, and cash for hours over 40, without any required overtime pay.
- Failed to include non-discretionary bonuses into the regular rate of pay, which is necessary when calculating overtime rates.
- Deducted breaks of only 20 minutes from employees’ hours worked.
The division’s investigation led to the recovery of $917,455 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages and prompted the department to assess $80,428 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the violations.
“Supermarket and grocery workers are among some of our nation’s lowest-paid, and they depend on every dollar earned to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey. “Giant Farmers Market’s attempt to evade federal regulations that protect workers’ rights to be paid all of their earned wages created an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.”