Following a ruling in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, Raceway Petroleum and its owner Nicholas Kambitsis must pay $3.9 million in unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages to more than 700 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 Kambitsis, will also pay $100,000 in civil money penalties.
“This action underscores our commitment to pursuing all available legal means to ensure workers receive their proper wages,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The Labor Department will not tolerate employers who violate the rights of workers and attempt to circumvent the law.”
More than 25 witnesses testified during the three week trial before a jury in the case. 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. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that beginning in June 2002 Raceway and Kambitsis violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay its 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. It was later determined that the defendants failed to come into compliance through December 2009.
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 90 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.