The U.S. Department of Labor has won a substantial victory for employees of New York City-area dollar stores. According to the agency, the dollars stores and their owners agreed to pay more than $485,000 in minimum wages, overtime pay, liquidated damages, and post-judgment interest for approximately 120 employees.
The DOL discovered that many of the dollar stores were part of a large multi-establishment retail company, although the stores had argued in the past that each store was an individual entity. Some small businesses can be exempted from certain wage and hour requirements because, for instance, they are not involved in interstate commerce.
The agency filed the suit after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division revealed that employees working at the companies’ retail stores “often were paid at hourly rates less than the federal minimum wage, and were required to work more than 40 hours in many weeks without being properly compensated.”
Employers who violate the law, whether it be wage and hour law, immigration law, or discrimination or whistleblower law, run a substantial risk of being sued by employees or government agencies. These lawsuits and investigations can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you own a small business, you owe it to yourself to engage an experienced employment lawyer to review your compliance with employment laws. An ounce of prevention is this area is worth several pounds of cure.