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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 10-53-NEW / BOS 2010-049

Date: 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Contact: 

John M. Chavez

Phone: 

617-565-2075

US Labor Department obtains federal court order prohibiting Brooklyn, NY, food distribution company from future violations of Fair Labor Standards Act


Grace Food Distribution Inc. also agrees to enhanced compliance program

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Department of Labor has secured a consent judgment in federal district court that prohibits Grace Food Distribution Inc. of Brooklyn and company president Ben Kwong C. Chiu from future violations of the minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and anti-retaliation provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, the Labor Department filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in September 2009 asking the court to issue an injunction ordering the defendants to stop violating specifically the recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA.

“These defendants ignored the recordkeeping requirements of the FLSA on an ongoing basis by failing to keep accurate records of basic information such as the name and address of each employee, as well as the hours worked and the amounts paid,” said Philip Jacobson, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s district office in New York City. “By doing so, they took advantage of their workers by repeatedly and willfully obstructing our efforts to determine if employees were paid in compliance with the FLSA.”

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. The law also requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

A consent judgment approved by the court prohibits the defendants from violating all major provisions of the FLSA and orders them to advise all their employees in the employees’ languages, including but not limited to Chinese and English, of their rights under the FLSA. The judgment further orders the defendants to implement an “enhanced compliance program.”

“We are committed to ensuring that employers are prevented from exploiting workers by acting as if they don’t exist,” Jacobson added. “In addition to requiring compliance with the minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and anti-retaliation provisions of the FLSA, this judgment contains a unique enhanced compliance program that requires employees be given a written statement, for example a paystub, each week listing their hours worked and pay rates along with their wages. This program will help ensure that workers are able to verify on their own that they are being paid properly as well as assist our investigators in determining compliance when they return to this employer.”

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division office in Manhattan investigated this case, and the legal action was taken by the department’s Regional Solicitor’s Office in New York City. For more information about FLSA requirements, contact the Wage and Hour Division in Manhattan at 646-587-5300 or call the department’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.wagehour.dol.gov.

Solis v. Grace Food Distribution Inc. et al; Civil Action Number: 09-CV-4028

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.