LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – The owner of six southern New Jersey gas stations has paid $1,471,024 in back wages and damages to 24 gas station attendants to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Manjit Guleria – the owner of five Citgo stations and one Lukoil station – regularly required employees to work seven days a week, 10 or more hours each day. Despite these long hours, Guleria paid his employees flat salaries that typically resulted in hourly wages well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, with no additional pay for overtime hours. Accordingly, the Department found that Guleria and his companies violated the FLSA by failing to pay employees the federal minimum wage or overtime. The employer also failed to maintain required payroll records.
Under the terms of the settlement, 24 employees will receive $735,512 in unpaid minimum wage and overtime compensation and $735,512 in liquidated damages. In addition to the back wages and damages, Guleria paid a $8,976 penalty for the violations and has agreed to future FLSA compliance. The stations will use an electronic timekeeping system to track employees’ hours worked, change break policies to ensure that they pay employees when they are unable to take breaks, and will provide employees with information about their rights under the FLSA.
“This settlement puts these wages into the hands of the employees who earned them,” said Charlene Rachor, director of the Division’s Southern Jersey District Office. “The Division encourages employers to avail themselves of the many resources we provide to help them to operate in compliance, and not to find themselves facing the liabilities that can come with breaking the law.”
New Jersey is one of two U.S. states that bar motorists from pumping their own gas. Gas stations in New Jersey employ full-service gas station attendants to operate gas pumps and provide related customer services. The attendants who received back wages and damages are employed at the following gas stations:
- Citgo, 400 NJ 38 in Maple Shade;
- Citgo, 102 Washington Crossing Road in Pennington;
- Citgo, 2006 Mount Holly Road in Burlington;
- Citgo, 1510 NJ 38 in Cherry Hill;
- Citgo, 469 Lenola Road in Moorestown; and
- Lukoil, 2225 Admiral Wilson Blvd. in Merchantville.
“Businesses that violate the law gain a competitive advantage in the industry and undermine law-abiding employers. We will vigorously enforce the law to ensure that companies that comply compete on a level playing field and to safeguard employees’ hard-earned wages,” said the Department’s Regional Solicitor Jeffrey S. Rogoff, in New York.
The FLSA requires that covered, non-exempt employees be paid at lease the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hours for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Some states have established minimum wage rates that differ from the federal minimum wage. Where federal and state laws require different wage rates, the higher standard applies. Employees must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.
The Division is committed to providing employers with the tools they need to assist them – in a variety of languages – in fulfilling their obligation to understand and comply with the variety of laws the Division enforces. It offers useful resources ranging from an interactive E-laws advisor to a complete library of free, downloadable workplace posters. In addition, the Division’s Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialists conduct ongoing outreach activities to educate stakeholders, including employers, employees, business and labor groups, and professional associations, among others, with accessible, easy-to-understand information about their rights and responsibilities.
The division’s Southern New Jersey District Office conducted the investigation, and Elena Goldstein, an attorney from the department’s Office of the Regional Solicitor in New York, assisted the division in securing the settlement.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.