$1,014,895 Recovered in Back Wages from Gas Station Industry in New Jersey By Wage and Hour Division of Department of Labor

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is conducting a multi-year enforcement initiative focusing on the gas station industry in New Jersey, where it has found consistent and widespread noncompliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. During fiscal year 2011, the division conducted 74 investigations of gas station facilities throughout the state, recovering $1,014,895 in back wages for 295 workers who were denied fair compensation for their work.

Sixty-nine of the establishments investigated were BP branded. Non-BP stations whose owners also had BP stations were found to have similar violations. Common violations found include paying workers below the federal minimum wage; paying a flat salary or "straight time" wages for all hours worked, without regard to overtime requirements; and paying cash wages "off the books," rather than maintaining accurate records of employees' wages, work hours and employment conditions, as required under the FLSA. After being notified of the violations, BP Products North America Inc. issued a letter to each of its marketers in New York and New Jersey, reminding them of their legal responsibilities under the FLSA and encouraging them to review their pay practices and ensure compliance under the law.

"Employers are legally required to pay their employees for all hours worked," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The Labor Department's initial findings in this enforcement initiative revealed a culture of noncompliance by gas stations in New Jersey that will not be tolerated. The Wage and Hour Division will continue to monitor this industry for continued compliance."

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. In general, "hours worked" includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

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