US Labor investigation finds Northeast supermarket chain miscalculated overtime, leading to more than $165K owed in back wages
CARLISLE, PA – Ignoring lump sum bonus payments made to essential supermarket workers during the pandemic when calculating their overtime rates led to federal wage violations by a large Northeast supermarket chain that shortchanged more than 3,300 workers in four states, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has determined.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Giant Company LLC of Carlisle increased workers’ hourly rates $2 per hour from March 2020 through May 2020 and calculated overtime correctly. In May 2020, the employer decreased the hourly wage by $2 and began paying lump sum bonuses instead. When they did, they failed to include those bonus amounts in workers’ regular rates when calculating overtime pay due, resulting in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Excluding bonus amounts from the calculation resulted in Giant paying overtime at rates lower than those the law requires. The employer paid lump sum bonuses in June 2020, October 2020 and February 2021.
The investigation led to the division’s recovery of $165,653 in back wages for 3,314 workers at 192 stores in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. The Giant Company LLC operates food stores under the Giant, Foodsource and Martin’s brands.
“Grocery workers are among our lowest-paid essential workers, and deserve to take home every penny of the wages they earn,” said Wage and Hour Division Wilkes-Barre District Office Director Al Gristina. “Shifting pay from the hourly rate to a bonus does not mean the employer can exclude it when calculating overtime. The Wage and Hour Division offers extensive educational materials to employers so that they understand their responsibilities clearly, and we invite them to contact us directly with any questions they may have. Trained professionals are available to answer questions from employers and employees alike, confidentially, in more than 200 languages.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.