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US Department of Labor sues operator of Ohio gas stations

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jun 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in federal court against R & R Takhar Operations Inc. to recover back wages and liquidated damages due to 80 employees after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division disclosed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions. The department’s lawsuit also requests the court to permanently enjoin the defendant from committing future violations of the FLSA.

The Dayton-based company operates 12 Ohio gas stations under the Sunoco, Marathon and Shell Oil brands. The violations affected employees at 12 gas stations located in Anna, Beavercreek, Botkins, Franklin, Huber Heights, Middletown, New Carlisle, St. Mary’s, Sidney and Springfield.

“We are concerned about the prevalence of labor violations among gas stations, particularly those employing low-wage workers, who are often unaware of their rights and vulnerable to disparate treatment,” said George Victory, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Columbus office. “As demonstrated by this lawsuit, we will vigorously pursue violators and use all enforcement tools available to recover workers’ wages and ensure compliance with the law.”

Investigators found that minimum wage violations occurred when gas station workers regularly performed pre- and post-shift work for which they were not compensated.  The business also required employees to pay back cash register shortages or drive-offs.  Employees were required to pay the shortages in cash or by working additional hours without compensation. Salaries also did not include an overtime premium of time and one-half workers’ regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, as required, and overtime was often banked as credit for time off or paid in cash at a rate of $7 per hour. The investigation also found that payroll records were not maintained accurately to reflect all hours worked, wages paid and hours worked at multiple locations.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division in Cincinnati.

The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for an exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis of not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. For an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd. 

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