News Release

Court enters preliminary injunction after Indiana liquor store owner agrees to stop intimidating workers who speak with federal wage investigators

Owner will advise workers of right to cooperate, pay $354K in back wages, damages

SOUTH BEND, IN – The operator of 61 liquor stores in two states must pay $354,633 in back wages and damages to 156 employees, post a statement and play a recorded video message to inform workers of their right to cooperate with federal wage investigators and notify them that he is subject to a federal lawsuit for retaliating against workers and failing to pay required wages, a U.S. District Court has ordered. 

The court, in the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend, included these requirements in a consent preliminary injunction and order entered in response to a February 2024 U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit seeking a restraining order against Bhola Singh, owner of Vishav Inc. in Granger for retaliating against workers who spoke to investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division and trying to coerce them to return back wages found due. 

Entered by District Judge Damon R. Leichty on May 8, 2024, the order requires the owner and operator of Mega Liquor & Smoke stores in Indiana and Michigan, to post the statement in a language understood by workers within three days and play the video — its content approved by the department — for employees within seven days during work hours. 

Singh agreed to immediately stop retaliating against workers who cooperated with investigators and received back wages found due. The employer must also provide the court with an accurate accounting of back wages paid and received by employees within 90 days. Any remaining back wages and damages owed will be paid to the department for distribution.

“The court is holding Bhola Singh accountable for his illegal tactics to stop employees from receiving the back wages and damages they’re owed,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago. “Employers should know that we will use every available legal resource to protect workers and end illegal and retaliatory practices by employers.” 

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

“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that Singh pays the wages and damages found due to his employees and that he agreed to pay months ago,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri in Chicago. “Our actions to stop this employer from intimidating workers and exploiting them for financial gain serves notice to other employers that we will not tolerate their failures to meet terms of federal wage agreements and retaliation. We’ll continue to help foster environments in which workers are safe from retaliation for asserting their rights.”

Attorneys Travis Gosselin and Haley Jenkins of the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Chicago are litigating the case. 

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, regardless of where they are from, and the division 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

Wage and Hour Division
May 9, 2024
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Media Contact: Scott Allen
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Media Contact: Rhonda Burke
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