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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [02/08/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-0145-DAL

Kenner, La., supermarkets pay more than $64,000 in back wages to 18 employees following US Labor Department investigation

KENNER, La. — Celina's International Supermarket LLC and Kenner Supermarket Inc. in Kenner, owned by Obed J. Irula and Celina Irula, have paid 18 current and former cashiers, stockers, and wait and kitchen staff $64,503 in back wages following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions.

"The Labor Department is committed to protecting the rights of low-wage and other vulnerable workers, including those in the food services industry," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "Vulnerable workers are those who are reluctant to come forward and complain when they are subject to violations for fear of retaliation, especially in tough economic times. This employer profited by paying employees less than they were legally due under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA provides protection not only to workers, but also to employers who depend on the department to ensure that no company receives an unfair advantage by dodging the law. Other employers should take notice and ensure that their policies comply with federal law."

An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division's Houston District Office found that employees were not paid for hours worked cleaning the establishments after closing, which resulted in their pay falling below the minimum wage. Investigators also found that employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week did not receive required overtime compensation. Additionally, employees' work hours were not recorded.

The investigation covered the Celina's International Supermarket on Williams Boulevard and another on David Drive. The Kenner Supermarket also is located on Williams Boulevard. The owners have agreed to properly maintain payroll records and to comply with the FLSA in the future. Back wages owed have been paid in full.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt 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 also 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 New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.