NEW YORK – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has entered a consent judgment ordering a Syracuse gas station and convenience store and a Jamesville pizzeria and convenience store and their owner to pay $56,364 in back wages and an equal amount of $56,364 in liquidated damages to 12 employees denied overtime wages.
The court’s action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division and litigation by its Office of the Solicitor that concluded Liberty Gas Station and Convenience Store LLC in Syracuse, and Liberty Pizza & Convenience Inc. in Jamesville, and operator Huseyin Turan failed to pay workers overtime pay when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. The workers regularly worked between 50 and 60 hours in a workweek. The investigation also found the employer failed to keep accurate records in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Liberty Gas Station and Turan also agreed to pay $7,272 in civil money penalties assessed by the department.
The department’s investigation and litigation revealed that the employers – who paid employees only straight time wages – attempted to conceal their failure to pay overtime through multiple schemes. They paid employees by check and cash, grossly understating the amount of hours worked on their payroll records, and required employees to sign false records before distributing their pay. They also paid some employees who worked over a total of 40 hours at both Syracuse and Jamesville locations with separate checks. Even after litigation began, the employers destroyed time records, resulting in the district judge issuing sanctions against them, ordering that the jury would be instructed to draw an adverse inference against the employers.
“Paying only straight-time wages to workers who are entitled to overtime compensation and then trying to evade liability by destroying time records and creating fake documents are egregious violations of the law,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York City. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring workers are properly paid and will pursue all appropriate legal actions, including filing suit in federal court to hold unscrupulous employers accountable for wage theft.”
“The Wage and Hour Division finds violations like these are all too common in the convenience store and gas station industry. Through this scheme to conceal its unlawful pay practices, the employer harmed these essential workers by depriving them of their hard earned wages,” said Wage and Hour District Director Jay Rosenblum in Albany, New York. “The Wage and Hour Division is available online and by phone to help workers and employers understand their respective rights and responsibilities under the law.”
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
The division’s Albany District Office conducted the investigation. Senior Trial Attorneys Alexander Kondo and Amy Tai of the New York Regional Office of the Solicitor litigated the case for the department.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). 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.