Labor Dept. Recovers $92K in Overtime Back Pay for Grocery Workers

Workers were paid a flat salary and denied overtime.

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INDIANAPOLIS â€“ The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $92,326 in back wages and liquidated damages for 18 workers whose employer paid them a fixed weekly rate to stock shelves, serve customers at meat counters and operate cash registers at three LaCanasta Grocery stores in Indianapolis.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that, by paying the flat salary, the employer failed to ensure they paid workers the required federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25. Additionally, the employer failed to pay overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek, both violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The investigation determined LaCanasta owed $46,163 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. In addition to paying the back wages and damages, LaCanasta will now require all employees to record their hours worked by clocking in and out on a tablet and will compensate them at time and one half their hourly rate for overtime hours worked.

“The wages recovered for these 18 workers makes a significant difference in their ability to support themselves and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Patricia Lewis in Indianapolis. “Historically, small grocers employ young, low-wage and vulnerable workers who may not understand their rights to basic wage protections like overtime and minimum wage. Our efforts serve to educate workers, employers and the public on compliance with wage laws.”

In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division’s Midwest initiative in the grocery industry recovered $172,124, in back wages for more than 200 workers, an average of about $823 per employee. Most commonly, the division found violations of overtime, minimum wage, and child labor standards.

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