New Mexico Business owner jailed for contempt of court for failing to provide documents in US Labor Department investigation

WHD News Brief: New Mexico Business owner jailed for contempt of court for failing to provide documents in US Labor Department investigation [07/23/2015]//

Employer: ASAP Auto Glass & Detailing

Site: Albuquerque, N.M.

Announcement: U.S. District Court of New Mexico Judge William P. Johnson ordered U.S. Marshals to arrest Walter Dill, the owner of ASAP Auto Glass & Detailing, July 15, for contempt of court. Dill, the subject of an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, was ordered by the court to provide employee, volume of sales, and payroll records, but failed to do so. On April 7, Judge Johnson granted the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s petition to enforce a Wage and Hour Division subpoena for records. Dill did not comply and was found in contempt of that order on May 29. Judge Johnson nevertheless gave Dill one final opportunity to provide the requested information. Although Dill came to the July 15 hearing with some documents, the department determined that too much information was still missing and that Dill was not in substantial compliance with either the subpoena or the court’s order. Because Dill was first served the subpoena on June 14, 2014 — over a year earlier — Judge Johnson dismissed Dill’s request for more time and ordered his immediate arrest, pending production of the remaining documents.

Quote: “This is a great victory for the employees of this company,” said Betty Campbell, acting regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Employers who don’t follow the law need to take note that the department will use every available legal tool to ensure workers are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

Information: For more information about federal wage laws, or to file a complaint, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Albuquerque District Office at505-248-6100. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

WHD News Brief: [07/23/2015]
Contact Name: Diana Petterson or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Email:
Petterson.Diana@dol.gov or Rodriguez.Juan@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-1463-DAL

New Florida Law Bans Discriminating Against Pregnant Women At Work and In Public

Florida legislature has passed a bill this year banning discrimination against pregnant women at work as well as in public places like restaurants or hotels.Pregnancy_Discrimination_Act

The bill amends the state’s Civil Rights Act by adding pregnancy to race, sex, and physical disability as protected classes.

As a result of this law, the State of Florida just released today a mandatory change in the state’s notice of discrimination, which is required to be posted at all workplaces, adding pregnancy as a protected class. The new Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) actually takes effect July 1, 2015.

Lawmakers introduced the bill to codify the state’s Supreme Court ruling last year in favor of plaintiff Peggy Delva, a front desk manager at a condominium building who sued her employer for barring her from covering other workers’ shifts after she became pregnant and firing her when she returned from leave. The court ruled that she was discriminated against on account of her pregnancy and that violated Florida’s law against sex discrimination, overturning lower courts who ruled against her.

Federal law, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, is also supposed to protect pregnant women, but they still experience widespread discrimination. An estimated quarter million women every year are denied their requests for employers to give them accommodations at work so that they can stay on their jobs throughout their pregnancies, so they end up pushed onto unpaid leave or suffering health complications such as miscarriages if they stay. The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of Peggy Young, who had sued UPS for refusing to give her light duty after she became pregnant, forcing her onto unpaid leave without benefits.

What this Means for Employers with Florida Employees

The 2015 amendment to the Florida Civil Right Act (FCRA) specifically provides that an employer may not discriminate against a woman affected by pregnancy, provided that the discriminatory act constitutes an unlawful employment practice. Such unlawful employment practices continue to include the following:

  • Discharging or failing to hire an individual, or otherwise discriminating against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment;
  • Limiting, segregating, or classifying employees or applicants for employment in ways that would deprive such individuals of employment opportunities or adversely affect an individual’s status as an employee;
  • Failing or refusing to refer an individual for employment;
  • Excluding or expelling an individual from membership in a labor organization or limiting, segregating, or classifying the membership of a labor organization;
  • Discriminating in admission to, or employment in, any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training for a profession, occupation, or trade;
  • Discriminating in licensing, certification, credentials, examinations, or an organizational membership required to engage in a profession, occupation, or trade; and
  • Printing or publishing ads related to membership in certain labor organizations or employment that indicate a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination.
  • 760.10, Fla. Stat.

Employers in Florida should prepare for the FCRA amendment by considering pregnancy-related conditions that the amendment may implicate, reviewing their current policies, and training their supervisors to be mindful that Florida law now expressly prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy.

For the convenience of our customers, All in One Poster Company has included the revised discrimination notice containing the pregnancy verbiage for all labor law poster orders placed on or after July 27, 2015.

Ashley Furniture cited again, faces new proposed penalties for failing to protect workers from moving machine parts

OSHA News Release: Ashley Furniture cited again, faces new proposed penalties for failing to protect workers from moving machine parts [07/21/2015]// //

Furniture retailer also did not report recent injury as required by OSHAARCADIA, Wis. — A 56-year-old employee of furniture manufacturer Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. had his right ring finger amputated because the company has continued to ignore safety requirements to protect workers from moving machine parts. The company also failed to report the injury to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as required.

After an OSHA inspection, the agency issued citations to the Arcadia-based company on July 21. The company was issued two willful violations for failing to protect workers from machinery operating parts and neglecting to report a hospitalization within 24 hours. OSHA cited two other-than-serious safety violations for failing to keep accurate injury records. Placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program earlier this year, Ashley faces proposed penalties of $83,200 as a result of the agency’s investigation of the March 11 injury.

A person outside the company reported the injury to OSHA nearly a month after the incident. Inspectors found the groover blade of a machine used to fabricate wooden drawers caused the amputation of the machine operator’s finger. A 49-year-old employee had a similar injury on the same type of machinery in January 2015, resulting in the willful violation.

“Workers at Ashley Furniture cannot count on their company to do what’s right when it comes to safety. These workers are at risk because this company is intentionally and willfully disregarding OSHA standards and requirements,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire.

In its inspections, OSHA found that Ashley failed to protect workers from dangerous machine operating parts when employees performed maintenance and during blade changes on woodworking machinery. Safety procedures require employers to prevent machines from unintentional operation during service and maintenance by using blocking and locking devices to prevent unexpected machine movement, a procedure known as lockout/tagout. This violation is among OSHA’s most frequently cited and often results in death or permanent disability.

Ashley Furniture has contested citations issued by OSHA in January 2015, which cited the company for 38 safety violations at the Arcadia location. Proposed penalties total $1,766,000. A hearing before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission will be scheduled. The agency issued the citations following an investigation that found that workers at the Arcadia plant had experienced more than 1,000 work-related injuries in the previous three-and-a-half-year period.

At that time, OSHA placed the company in the SVEP for failure to address safety hazards. As a result of the SVEP designation, inspections are currently open at Ashley’s facilities in California, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Forbes lists Ashley Furniture as the 117th largest private company in America with $3.85 billion in annual revenue as of October 2014. The worldwide distributor employs about 20,000 workers at 30 locations nationwide. The Arcadia plant is the largest employer in Trempealeau County.

The company has had 34 federal OSHA inspections and 23 state plan inspections since 1982. In its 33 previous inspections, OSHA issued citations for 96 serious, four repeated and 38 other-than-serious violations. Four inspections were initiated as a result of finger amputations, including one in 2014 at the Arcadia plant.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Eau Claire Area Office at 715-832-9019.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

OSHA News Release: Ashley Furniture cited again, faces new proposed penalties for failing to protect workers from moving machine parts [07/21/2015]// //

OSHA News Release: [07/21/2015]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-6976
Email:
Allen.Scott@dol.gov or Burke.Rhonda@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-1381-CHI

Workers affected by California drought to receive temporary employment

Labor Department announces $18M in National Dislocated Worker Grant funding

WASHINGTON — Now well into its fourth year, one of the worst droughts in California in more than a century continues to cause economic insecurity for many families in the region, particularly in the agriculture sector. A recent University of California Davis study estimates 18,000 people lost jobs because of drought. These losses leave working families struggling to make ends meet, and today the Department of Labor is announcing up to $18 million in National Dislocated Worker Grant (formerly referred to as National Emergency Grants) funding to the state of California to provide jobs for workers dislocated by the drought, with $3 million released initially.

“For so many in California’s growing regions, water has been their livelihood for generations,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Without it, growth — both the natural growth of living things and of the local economy — slows to a standstill. For those whose ability to provide for their families is most immediately affected by the drought, this funding will provide much needed temporary employment. I am particularly grateful to Congressman Jim Costa — who is announcing the grant today in Fresno — for bringing the suffering of these families to my attention and setting in motion this much-needed federal assistance.”

This NDWG will employ up to 1,000 workers for up to six months with public and nonprofit agencies working to remove dead foliage to prevent potential fires and mudslides, and renovating and repairing public facilities damaged by the sustained drought. Made possible by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the grant will focus on the areas facing the most severe impacts in California. Other states that have received a drought emergency declaration and can document drought-impacted job losses will have the option to apply for similar dislocated worker grants. The program will also support youth in drought-impacted households as well as the long-term unemployed.

California’s Employment Development Department will deploy the project funds through the Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium and through La Cooperativa Campesina de California. NoRTEC — a local Workforce Development Board in the far northern part of the State — and La Cooperativa — a statewide convener of farm worker programs throughout California — will work directly with regional partners and project work sites to assist impacted workers.

As President Obama said on a visit to Fresno, Calif., last year, “California is our biggest economy, California is our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American, right down to the cost of food that you put on your table.” That’s why the administration has announced new actions and investments of more than $110 million — of which this NDWG is part — to support workers, farmers and rural communities suffering from drought and to combat wildfires. This builds on the more than $190 million that agencies across the federal government have invested to support drought-stricken communities so far this year.

National Dislocated Worker Grants are part of the secretary of labor’s discretionary fund. The department awards the grant based on a state’s ability to meet specific guidelines.

ETA News Release: Workers affected by California drought to receive temporary employment [07/20/2015]//

ETA News Release: [07/20/2015]
Contact Name: Egan Reich
Phone Number: (202) 693-4960
Email:
reich.egan.2@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-1449-NAT

US Department Of Labor Provides New Guidance On Employee vs. Independent Contractor Classification

Most workers are employees under the [Fair Labor Standards Act’s] broad definitions.”

The debate over classification of workers as employees versus independent contractors has yet another chapter.  Last month, it was the California Labor Commissioner who sent ripples across the rideshare industry by telling Uber Technologies, Inc. that its drivers are employees, not independent contractors.  This month, the United States Department of Labor decided it was time to throw its hat in the ring and weigh in on the matter by way of a fifteen page Administrator’s Interpretation issued by Dr. David Weil.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) defines employees, rather unhelpfully, as “any individual[s] employed by an employer.”  The FLSA’s definition of “employer” is similarly unilluminating: “employer”  “includes any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.”  To “employ” under the FLSA is “to suffer or permit to work.”

Lone-Worker-Group

If you’re confused as to whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor based on these definitions, you’re not alone.

The Department of Labor’s new interpretation explains that an “economic realities” test should be utilized to determine worker classification.  Under this test, the key inquiry is whether a worker is economically dependent on the employer, thereby making the worker an employee, versus whether the worker is truly in business for him or herself and thus, an independent contractor.  Determining the economic independence of a worker should occur on a case-by-case basis, using a multi-factor test that has been developed by a series of federal court decisions.  Factors that should be customarily examined include:

(i)            the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business;

(ii)           the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on his or her managerial skill;

(iii)          the extent of the relative investments of the employer and the worker;

(iv)         whether the work performed requires special skills and initiative;

(v)          the permanency of the relationship; and

(vi)         the degree of control exercised or retained by the employer.

No one factor is determinative and “each factor should be considered in light of the ultimate determination of whether the worker is really in business for him or herself… or is economically dependent on the employer.”  The interpretation emphasizes the FLSA definitions were deliberately designed to provide a broad scope of statutory coverage and the “Act’s intended expansive coverage for workers must be considered when applying the economic realities factors.”  The interpretation also explains “the economic realities of the relationship and not the label an employer give it are determinative.  Thus, an agreement between an employer and a worker designating or labeling the worker as an independent contractor… is not relevant to the analysis of the worker’s status.”

The correct classification of workers matters both for workers and employers alike.  A worker’s classification affects entitlement to legal protections such as overtime pay and minimum wage, amongst other protections under the Act.  This DOL interpretation comes only two weeks after the DOL unveiled its proposed rule that is anticipated to result in approximately 5 million currently exempt workers shifting classification to non-exempt workers, thereby becoming entitled to minimum wage and overtime protection under the FLSA.

Originally posted by Shar Bahmani of The National Law Review

Cal/OSHA Cites Construction Company in Fatal Steel Pipe Accident

American Canyon—Cal/OSHA cited a Bay Area company following an investigation into

Emergency workers respond to the site where a 28-year-old construction worker died after he was crushed by rolling pipe at a road project southwest of the Petaluma Boulevard South exit off Highway 101 in Petaluma on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Emergency workers respond to the site where a 28-year-old construction worker died after he was crushed by rolling pipe at a road project southwest of the Petaluma Boulevard South exit off Highway 101 in Petaluma on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

a fatal accident at a Petaluma construction site in April. A 28-year-old worker from Novato was killed when a 40-foot concrete-coated steel pipe being unloaded from a forklift rolled down a slope and crushed him.

“This fatality could have been avoided had the required safety measures been in place for working at a hazardous location,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

Construction workers continue to unload pipe from a flatbed trailer truck after one of the pipe pieces rolled over and killed a 28-year-old construction worker southwest of the Petaluma Boulevard South exit of Highway 101 in Petaluma, on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Construction workers continue to unload pipe from a flatbed trailer truck after one of the pipe pieces rolled over and killed a 28-year-old construction worker southwest of the Petaluma Boulevard South exit of Highway 101 in Petaluma, on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

The accident occurred around 7 a.m. on April 15 near Highway 101, where Maggiora & Ghilotti, Inc. of San Rafael was replacing an old water pipe. The employee was working with a forklift operator to unload and transport the new pipe down a sloping dirt road. The pipe weighed approximately 8,000 pounds and was not secured to the forklift; it was unloaded directly to the ground without any chocks or barrier to prevent it from moving. The worker was facing the pipe when it slid off the forks, rolled over him and was finally stopped by a chain link fence.

“Employers must be vigilant in recognizing job hazards and keeping their employees safe by taking the necessary precautions in all aspects of an operation,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.

A member of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office takes a photo of the pipe that rolled over and killed a 28-year-old construction worker in Petaluma on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

A member of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office takes a photo of the pipe that rolled over and killed a 28-year-old construction worker in Petaluma on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Cal/OSHA’s American Canyon office issued three citations to Maggiora & Ghilotti for failing to recognize and plan for the hazard of transporting the steel pipe, for failing to survey and plan for the hazards of uneven ground, and for not securing the pipe during transport. The three citations total $38,250.

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.

Scene of fatal construction worker accident in Sonoma County, April 15, 2015. (KGO-TV)

Scene of fatal construction worker accident in Sonoma County, April 15, 2015. (KGO-TV)

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734), or the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 866-924-9757 for recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also be filed confidentially withCal/OSHA district offices.

For media inquiries, contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046.

News Release No.: 2015-65

New York City Enacts Ban-the-Box Legislation

New York City has adopted an ordinance restricting when employer inquiries about applicants’ criminal histories may be made during the application process and imposing significant obligations on employers who intend to take action based on such information.

The Fair Chance Act ordinance will become effective on October 27, 2015, 120 days after Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill on June 29.

Similar to other ban-the-box laws, the ordinance generally prohibits an employer with at least four employees from making an inquiry about an applicant’s pending arrest or criminal conviction record until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended. Limited exceptions are provided.

Under the ordinance’s definition of inquiry, employers are prohibited not only from asking an applicant prohibited questions — verbally or in writing — but also are prohibited from searching publicly available sources to obtain information about an applicant’s criminal history.

Exceptions

The main exception applies when an employer, under applicable federal, state, or local law, is required to conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes or to bar employment in a particular position based on criminal history.

Other exceptions remove prospective police officers, peace officers, and law enforcement agency and other law-enforcement-related employees from coverage. Therefore, these are unlikely to affect positions and employers in the private sector.

Notification Process

Employers who make inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history after a conditional offer of employment has been extended and determine that the information warrants an adverse employment action must follow a rigorous process. Specifically, employers must:

  1. Provide the applicant with a “written copy of the inquiry” which complies with the City’s Commission on Human Rights’s required (but not-yet-issued) format;

  2. Perform the analysis required by Article 23(a) of the New York Correction Law, “Licensure and Employment of Persons Previously Convicted of One or More Criminal Offenses”;

  3. Provide the applicant with a copy of its analysis, also in a manner which complies with the Commission’s required format, which includes supporting documents and an explanation of the employer’s decision to take an adverse employment action; and

  4. Allow the applicant at least three business days to respond to the written analysis by holding the position open during this time.

Of course, for employers who conduct background checks through consumer reporting agencies, if such information is obtained from a background check, the above process must be integrated with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) pre-adverse action requirements.

Originally posted by The National Law Review

Oregon governor signs paid sick leave, retirement legislation

PORTLAND (Reuters) – Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed legislation on Monday

Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks at the state capital building in Salem, Oregon, February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks at the state capital building in Salem, Oregon, February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

mandating paid sick leave for nearly all workers and establishing a first-of-its kind state-run retirement program for private sector employees.

Brown said the four bills, dubbed the “Fair Shot” agenda, will help working, low-income families by ensuring a living wage, retirement security and protection against racial profiling by police.

“Our work is not done. There are still people with full-time jobs who are unable to make ends meet,” Brown said in a statement. “We must carry on the fight to ensure all Oregonians have the opportunity to earn a living wage.”

The measures, passed by the state’s majority-Democrat legislature, were backed by a coalition of unions, social service groups, health care non-profits and minority-advocacy groups.

With the passage of the bills, Oregon became the first state in the nation to automatically enroll residents in a defined-contribution plan if they are hired by an employer that does not already offer retirement benefits, according to the task force that designed the measure.

Workers will have the right to opt out of the plan.

The package of bills also made Oregon the fourth state to require all businesses, with limited exceptions, to provide paid sick leave to their workers, after Connecticut, California and Massachusetts.

The law applies to all private-sector employers, regardless of their primary place of business, and allows workers to accrue up to 40 hours of sick leave annually.

Republicans decried the new bills, saying the measures will hurt small business owners and do nothing to create jobs.

In a statement, Republicans said the new sick-leave mandate will cost businesses $914 million, while the new retirement program for private-sector workers created an “expensive government mandate on Oregonians while doing nothing to increase incomes across the state”.

The two other “Fair Shot” laws signed by Brown on Monday prohibit employers from asking job candidates about criminal records before the interview stage and outlaws racial, ethnic and religious profiling by police.

By Courtney Sherwood
(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Miral Fahmy)

Superior Court Judge Upholds Labor Commissioner’s Decision That Truck Driver Was Misclassified as Independent Contractor: Driver to Receive Nearly $180,000 in Back Wages and Expenses

Los Angeles—A Superior Court judge last week sided with the Labor Commissioner’s Office in finding that a Los Angeles trucking company misclassified an employee as an independent contractor. The court affirmed that Laca Express Inc. owes driver Ho Woo Lee $179,390 in back wages and expenses unlawfully deducted from his paycheck.

“The Labor Commissioner determines the employment status of an individual based on the facts of each case,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR.) “This decision shows the laws are in place to ensure that workers are properly classified.” The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also called the Labor Commissioner’s Office, is a division of DIR.

In his December 2012 claim filed with the Los Angeles Labor Commissioner’s office, Lee said Laca Express unlawfully deducted $83,292 from his paycheck in violation of Labor Code section 221. Lee’s claim included more than $80,000 in weekly lease and insurance payments that were deducted from his paycheck for a truck that Laca repossessed after terminating Lee’s employment. The Labor Commissioner’s Office issued an Order, Decision or Award (ODA) in Lee’s favor for $161,205.

Laca appealed the ODA, and the Labor Commissioner’s Office represented Lee in the Los Angeles Superior Court case. Judge Ross Klein determined that Lee was owed $179,390 plus costs and attorney’s fees for unlawfully deducted wages, reimbursable expenses (such as fuel and truck repair costs), interest and penalties.

“Judge Klein’s ruling will go a long way toward making Mr. Lee whole for the unlawful behavior of Laca Express,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “The judgment will also serve as a deterrent to wrongful misclassification of workers and other forms of wage theft.”

DIR News Release No.: 2015-62
Date: July 7, 2015

Labor Commissioner Cites Grocery Chain El Super More Than $180,000 for Wage Theft Violations

El Super

Los Angeles—California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su this week cited Paramount-based El Super grocery store chain for multiple wage theft violations, with assessments and penalties totaling $180,668. The chain of 43 markets is owned and operated by Bodega Latin, Inc., with 15 locations in Los Angeles.

The investigation revealed that El Super denied rest and meal periods, and failed to pay overtime wages for 20 workers at 10 of El Super’s Los Angeles markets.

“California labor laws are clear regarding rest periods and overtime requirements. Employees must be compensated for the hours they work and the benefits they earn,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a division of DIR.

Investigators gathered evidence using payroll records audits and worker interviews. The evidence indicated rest and meal period violations as well as overtime premiums owed between June 17, 2012 and June 6, 2015 for all of the workers interviewed. Some employees worked an average of 55 hours per week but were paid for only 40 hours without overtime. Workers were forced to clock out for meal breaks but ordered to return to work without taking their full meal period. In some cases, workers were not allowed to take rest breaks.

Bodega Latin, Inc. was assessed $3,557 in minimum wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, $44,463 in overtime wages, $93,228 in rest period premiums, $19,903 in meal period premiums, $8,161 in waiting time penalties and $7,800 in rest period penalties.  Bodega must also reimburse its staff at the 10 locations $101,084 for illegal uniform deductions documented during the audit.

“This citation is an expensive reminder to employers who are depriving workers of their hard-earned wages,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su.

Many of the wage violations were documented in off-site interviews with the El Super workers.

“Workers often do not know their rights and fear losing their jobs for complaining about wage theft,” said Su.  “It is important that workers exercise their labor rights by contacting us if they have been victimized by wage theft – and we can help workers to feel safe by offering off-site interviews where they can speak without their employer watching.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, formally known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, investigates retaliation and whistleblower complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses, and educates the public on labor laws. Updated information on California labor laws is available online.

The Wage Theft is a Crime public awareness campaign, launched last year by DIR and its Labor Commissioner’s Office, has helped inform workers of their rights. The campaign includes multilingual print and outdoor advertising as well as radio commercials on ethnic stations in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). The California Workers’ Information line at 866-924-9757 also offers recorded information in English and Spanish on a variety of work-related topics.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Peter Melton at (510) 286-1161 for additional details.

CA DIR News Release No.: 2015-61                                      Date: July 3, 2015