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Riverside County Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment Lawyer For Employers > Grocery Store Owners in California Held Liable for Nearly $450,000 for Unpaid Overtime (A Lesson for Employers)

Grocery Store Owners in California Held Liable for Nearly $450,000 for Unpaid Overtime (A Lesson for Employers)


On April 18, 2024, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the owners of three grocery stores in California were liable for nearly $450,000 in civil damages for overtime violations. Notably, the DOL imposed liquidated damages in this case—meaning the employer was hit with financial sanctions that were double the amount of wages originally owed. Here, our California employment attorney discusses this case in more detail and highlights the key lesson for employers.

DOL Enforcement Action: Back Wages Recovered for Dozens of Workers in California 

The DOL has taken legal action to enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The owners of three grocery stores in Kern County will pay a collective $447,952 to approximately 60 employees who the employer improperly denied overtime pay. The DOL determined that the employer denied workers $223,976 in overtime wages owed to them as a matter of federal law. The DOL also awarded these employees an equal amount in liquidated damages. Additionally, the DOL fined the employer nearly $25,000 as the wage and hour violations, in this case, were deemed “willful”.

Employers Face Risk of Major Financial Sanctions for Willful FLSA Violations 

Employers who willfully violate the FLSA face the risk of significant financial sanctions. One of the key components of these penalties is the liquidated damages provision of federal law. Under the FLSA, an employee entitled to overtime pay, which the employer denies, has a right to see full back pay. Beyond that, the employee may receive additional compensation in the form of liquidated damages. These damages are intended to compensate employees for the delay in receiving the wages they earned and are typically equal to the amount of unpaid overtime or minimum wages. In other words, an employer that violates the FLSA could end up paying double the original amount owed—and that is before any legal costs are considered.

 Lesson for Employers: Proactive Wage and Hour Compliance is a Must 

The DOL is cracking down on wage and hour violations. California state regulators are also taking strong enforcement action. The case involving the Kern County grocery industry employer should serve as a lesson for companies and organizations in our region: Proactive wage and hour compliance is a must.

Employers should regularly review their payroll practices, provide training to managerial staff, and promptly address any discrepancies in wage payments. Implementing a robust compliance program can significantly reduce the risk of costly penalties and damages. A California employment lawyer will ensure that your business has the right system in place to ensure wage and hour compliance.

 Get Help From a California Employment Law Attorney Today

At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, our California employment attorney has extensive experience advocating for employer rights. If you have any questions about wage and hour practices, please do not hesitate to contact us today. Our firm represents employers in Coachella Valley, Riverside County, and all across California.



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