Daily Labor Report – Wage & Hour
Daily Labor Report – Wage & Hour
York Labor Department June 2 announced that six grocery stores located in
will pay $320,185 to settle claims that 41 current and former grocery baggers
were paid only in customer tips.
supermarket customers drop a few coins into a paper cup by the cash register
that is a tipnot a paycheck, New York Deputy Commissioner of Labor Terri
Gerstein said in a statement.
outrageous that employers would pay no wages at all and leave their hardworking
employees with an empty bag at the end of the week, Gerstein stated.
Store Owner Said Baggers Were Not
Supermarket at 3131 Grand Concourse,
store owner Luis Vargas told BNA June 4 that the baggers at his store were
indeed unpaid but that it was because they were not actually employees.
basically three baggers because I did not consider them employees. They were
just people who insisted on hanging around and bagging for $30 or $40 a day in
tips. Basically I got screwed, Vargas said.
he was never given any warning or chance to correct the situation by the state
labor department. I guess they were doing this all over the place and I dont
understand why we were never given any warning or anything. Originally the fine
was $80,000 but I agreed to settle for $40,000 and a payment plan, Vargas
Department spokeswoman Michelle Duffy told BNA June 4 in response to Vargass
comments that business owners are presumed to know the law and said his
settlement was for 11not threeunpaid baggers.
issue warnings. We assess penalties when there are violations. As long as the
employer permits [baggers] to work in the supermarket, they must receive at
least the minimum wage and overtime pay after 40 hours of work, Duffy said.
One Owner Says He Settled to Avoid
C-Town store owner Jaime Luna told BNA June 4 that the allegations of unpaid
wages were false and he settled only to avoid litigation costs.
unpaid wagesthat was their finding. I would waste more time and money [than
the settlement amount] trying to fight it in court so I agreed to settle. I
dont even use baggers here, Luna said.
the eight grocery stores involved in the investigation and settlements are all
individually owned and operated. I have the impression many of them are just
typical neighborhood corner stores, Duffy said.
Advocacy Group Tipped Off Labor
began in 2008 when Make the Road New York, a community advocacy organization,
tipped off the department that three of the eight grocery stores were not
paying wages to the baggers, which culminated in a sweep of the eight stores,
department said most of the stores investigated were complying with wage and
hour laws for other workers but that the baggers in a majority of cases worked
for tips only.
In about 50
percent of the cases, the baggers were working in excess of 40 hours per week,
with some working as many as 80 hours per week, Duffy said.
several workers will receive in excess of $25,000 but that others will receive
less than $100 from the settlements.
One Store Also Fined for Employing
- Pioneer Supermarket at
381 Mother Gaston Boulevard, Brooklyn, N.Y.,
will pay out $160,451 to 12 baggers;
- Associated Supermarket at
3907 103rd Street, Corona, N.Y.,
will pay $49,223 to three baggers;
- Key Food at
952 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn,
N.Y., will pay four workers
$44,861 plus an additional $2,500 in penalties for employing two minors
without a permit;
- Food Bazaar at
452 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y.,
will pay $5,321 to one bagger, according to the state labor department.
department estimates that an additional Pioneer Supermarket in the Bronx and an
additional C-Town Food Store in
owe some workers approximately $400,000 in unpaid wages and overtime
compensation, but these stores are still negotiating settlements.
Vargas and Luna, no other store owners or store representatives responded to
BNAs requests for comments.