N.J. Gas Station Owner to Pay $3M For Denied OT Wages
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- N.J. Gas Station Owner to Pay $3M For Denied OT Wages
By Ed Beeson/The Star-Ledger on March 07, 2013 at 11:19 AM, updated March 07, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Waseem Chaudhary and a company he operates, Daniyal Enterprises, has agreed to pay $3 million in overtime back pay and damages to 417 workers employed at 72 of his New Jersey gas stations, the Labor Department said today.
The owner of dozens of New Jersey gas stations has agreed to pay more than $3 million and undergo extensive monitoring to settle a U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found that attendants were often forced to work as much as 84 hours a week without overtime pay.
Waseem Chaudhary and a company he operates, Daniyal Enterprises, will pay $2 million in overtime back wages and $1 million in liquidated damages to 417 workers employed at 72 of his New Jersey gas stations, the Labor Department said today. They also will pay $91,000 in penalties because of the repeat and willful nature of the violations, the agency said.
The Labor Department also has imposed a three-year monitoring program at each gas station covered by the settlement to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law requires covered, nonexempt employees to be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, plus one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked over 40 per week.
All gas station owners and operators in New Jersey should take note of this precedent by reviewing their payroll practices and legal obligations, Seth Harris, acting Secretary of Labor, said in a statement.
Gas station attendants are few in number, earn low wages, work long hours and often lack English proficiency factors that contribute to their vulnerability as well as the importance of protecting their right to be paid properly.
The departments investigation also found that many employees were paid partly off the books and sometimes in cash, in an effort to hide the lack of overtime pay. Daniyal also failed to maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked, the agency said.
An attorney for Chaudhary, William McLane of Littler Mendelson, did not immediately return a call.
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