News Release

US Department of Labor seeks injunction to stop Indiana liquor store owner from intimidating workers, denying them back pay

Owner attempted to force employees to kick back wages owed

SOUTH BEND, IN – The U.S. Department of Labor asked a federal court to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against Vishav Inc. – operating as Mega Liquor & Smoke – and its owner, Bhola Singh, to stop the Granger, Indiana-based company from retaliating against and intimidating employees owed back wages and liquidated damages. Singh owns and operates 61 Mega Liquor & Smoke stores in Indiana and Michigan. 

Filed on Feb. 29, 2024, by the department’s Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend, the request for a restraining order is prompted by investigations by the department’s Wage and Hour Division

In its filing, the department alleges that after signing a settlement agreement on Sept. 29, 2023, to pay $354,633 in back wages and liquidated damages to 156 employees for minimum wage and overtime violations that occurred between Nov. 9, 2020 and Nov. 6, 2022, Singh engaged in an ongoing kickback scheme to deprive current and former employees of the money they are owed using threats, intimidation and coercion. The Fair Labor Standards Act bans employers from retaliating against workers.

Singh repeatedly demanded employees sign receipts falsely attesting they had been paid back wages and liquidated damages when those payments had not been made. Singh’s coercion included threats of termination to employees to convince them to assist him in this scheme.

“The Department of Labor is asking the court to hold Bhola Singh accountable for his illegal tactics to prevent employees from receiving the back wages and damages they are owed and that he agreed to pay. Retaliation against workers is a clear violation of the law,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago. “We will use every available legal resource to protect workers and end retaliatory practices by employers, including seeking punitive damages for those harassed.”

The department is asking the court to prohibit the company and Singh from:

  • Interrogating, inquiring about or discussing with any employees or former employees of Mega Liquor & Smoke their potential or actual communications with the U.S. Department of Labor and its representatives. 
  • Withholding wages, terminating or threatening to terminate workers for cooperating with investigators.

The department also seeks to require the company and Singh to notify employees in writing of their right to cooperate with investigators and of the existence of the lawsuit in a language understood by the employee and to advise the department in writing of the potential termination of any employee seven days prior to the action. It asks the court to award punitive damages to some employees retaliated against by the company and Singh. 

These federal laws were established decades ago to prevent employers from intimidating workers and exploiting them for financial gain,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri in Chicago. “Our actions to stop this harassment will ensure that these workers receive the wages they have rightfully earned and serve notice to other employers that retaliation will not be tolerated.”

The case is being litigated by attorneys Travis Gosselin and Haley Jenkins of the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Chicago. 

Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division. 

For more information about the FLSA and other laws that prohibit retaliation, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Workers and employers can call the division confidentially with questions, and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. 

U.S. Department of Labor  v. Vishav Inc. d/b/a Mega Liquor & Smoke #13, Bhola Singh

Case No: 3:24-cv-00186-DRL-MGG


Office of the Solicitor
February 29, 2024
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Media Contact: Scott Allen
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Media Contact: Rhonda Burke
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