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WHD News Release: [04/20/2010]
Contact Name: Leni Fortson
Phone Number: (215) 861-5102
Release Number: 10-0485-NEW
US Department of Labor secures nearly $4 million in back wages for gas station employees in Central and Southern NJ
Company to also pay $100,000 in fines for violating federal wage and hour law
PISCATAWAY, N.J. The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a judgment against Raceway Petroleum and Nicholas Kambitsis to pay $3.9 million in unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages to more than 700 of their former and current employees, predominantly gas attendants. Raceway Petroleum Inc., a Piscataway company with gas stations located throughout Central and Southern N.J., along with its owner Nicholas Kambitsis, will also pay $100,000 in civil money penalties.
"This action underscores the department's commitment to pursue all available legal means to ensure that workers receive their proper wages," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "It should send the message that the Labor Department will not tolerate employers that do not comply with the law in violation of worker rights."
Over twenty-five witnesses testified during three weeks of trial before a jury in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey. Some employees described working as many as 100 hours a week. For part of the period covered by the lawsuit, Raceway deducted up to two hours of breaks daily. Many of the employee witnesses testified that they got less than one-half hour of break time each day. The consent judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the department in 2006 which alleged that, between June 2002 and December 2009, Raceway and Mr. Kambitsis, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay their employees time and one-half their regular hourly rates when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, and by failing to keep accurate time and payroll records.
In addition to paying the back wages and liquidated damages, the company must retain an independent monitor to ensure FLSA compliance and train employees on their rights under the Act, install a mechanical or electronic timekeeping system that accurately records employee hours at each of its gas stations and provide professional training on the proper use of the time clocks in languages understandable to the employees. Within ninety days, a supplemental judgment will be submitted for the court's approval which will provide the names of the employees owed back wages and liquidated damages, the amounts due each employee, and the schedule for their payments.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained. The federal minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.
For more information about this investigation, call the Wage and Hour Division's Southern New Jersey District Office at 609-538-8310. For more information about FLSA requirements, call the Department of Labor's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.