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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [02/13/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-0133-DAL

US Labor Department recovers nearly $27,000 in overtime back wages for grocery store employees in Tulsa, Okla.

TULSA, Okla. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has recovered $26,983 in overtime back wages for 23 current and former employees of Antonio Perez, the owner of Las Americas Supermercado Inc. and Gateway Supermarket LLC, following an investigation that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions at five of Perez's grocery stores in Tulsa.

An investigation by the division's Oklahoma City District Office found that employees were improperly classified as managers when in fact they did not meet the requirements for the exemption, and consequently were due overtime compensation. It was also determined that employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week were paid "straight time," rather than receiving time and one-half their regular rates as required by the FLSA. Additionally, the employers failed to maintain the required records.

"A job must meet the salary and duty requirements outlined in the FLSA in order to qualify as exempt from overtime compensation, and putting someone on salary does not automatically exempt him or her from coverage," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "We want workers to know that we will defend their right to compensation for all hours worked, and we want employers who play by the rules to know that we will take action against those that use illegal tactics to gain a competitive advantage."

Investigators found violations at the Las Americas Supermercados located at East Third Street, East Admiral Place, East 21st Street and South Garnett Road, and at the Gateway Supermarket located on North Peoria Avenue. Perez, who employs approximately 174 workers, has agreed to future compliance with the FLSA and has paid the back wages in full.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 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 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 its Oklahoma City office at 405-231-4158. Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.