LOS ANGELES – On July 3, 2015, California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su announced a citation of more than $180,000 issued to the Paramount-based grocery store chain El Super. The citation was issued for multiple wage theft violations, with assessments and penalties totaling $180,668.
The Department of Industrial Relations investigation revealed that El Super denied rest and meal periods, and failed to pay overtime wages for 20 workers at 10 of El Super’s Los Angeles markets.
“Thankfully the state of California has investigators whose job it is to uncover employers who violate labor laws,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Greedy employers who take advantage of and steal from their employees through wage theft hurt families and the economy. They are breaking the law.”
Investigators gathered evidence using payroll records audits and worker interviews. The evidence revealed rest and meal period violations, as well as overtime premiums owed between June 17, 2012 and June 6, 2015 for all of the workers interviewed. Some employees worked an average of 55 hours per week but were paid for only 40 hours without overtime. Workers were forced to clock out for meal breaks but ordered to return to work without taking their full meal period. In some cases, workers were not allowed to take rest breaks.
Bodega Latin, Inc. was assessed $3,557 in minimum wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, $44,463 in overtime wages, $93,228 in rest period premiums, $19,903 in meal period premiums, $8,161 in waiting time penalties and $7,800 in rest period penalties. Bodega must also reimburse its staff at the 10 locations $101,084 for illegal uniform deductions documented during the audit.
“This citation is an expensive reminder to employers who are depriving workers of their hard-earned wages,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “Workers often do not know their rights and fear losing their jobs for complaining about wage theft. It is important that workers exercise their labor rights by contacting us if they have been victimized by wage theft – and we can help workers to feel safe by offering off-site interviews where they can speak without their employer watching.”