US Department of Labor recovers $65K in back wages, damages for 3 workers denied overtime by gas station operators with history of costly violations
PITTSBURGH – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $65,640 in back wages and liquidated damages for three workers at two Pittsburgh-area gas station and convenience stores after its investigation found the employer had a history of shortchanging workers and violating federal overtime laws.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Om Shiva Enterprise Inc. – a Monaca-based operator of Sunoco gas stations and owner Durlabhju Ukani – did not pay employees the overtime they were legally due when they worked between 57 and 112 hours in a week. Om Shiva failed to pay one-and-one-half times employees’ required rates of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek. The employer also failed to maintain records of employees’ work hours. The investigations covered locations in Freedom and Cranberry Township.
The latest action follows a Nov. 5, 2021, consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania that required Om Shiva Enterprise Inc. and its owners to pay $281,029 in back wages and liquidated damages to two workers at a gas station and convenience store in Monaca. The judgment also orders them to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act in the future.
During this prior investigation in 2021 and others in 2011, 2016 and 2020 at other locations they operate, Om Shiva Enterprise Inc. and Ukani were informed of the FLSA’s requirements, including the responsibility to pay overtime and maintain records of employees’ work hours.
“Despite these investigations and their knowledge of their responsibilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Om Shiva Enterprise Inc. and Durlabhju Ukani recklessly disregarded federal overtime and recordkeeping requirements,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh. “These types of violations are common in the retail industry and can be prevented by complying with the law or contacting the Wage and Hour Division with questions to avoid costly consequences. There should be no doubt that we will use every tool at our disposal when employers chose to ignore federal labor laws.”
“When an employer like Om Shiva Enterprise Inc. and owner Durlabhju Ukani engage in wage theft, they deprive vulnerable workers of the wages they need to make ends meet. The U.S. Department of Labor has – and will continue – to actively pursue appropriate and active legal remedies to compel serial violators to adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act and their obligation to pay their employees properly,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia.
In addition to the back wages and liquidated damages, the consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania requires the defendants to pay $843 in civil money penalties to the Labor Department. It also prohibits them from future overtime and recordkeeping violations and soliciting or accepting payment of the wages and damages from the affected employees.
The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions regardless of their immigration status. The department can speak with callers confidentially in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App, now available for android devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.