The U.S. Department of Labor announced on March 7 that it reached a settlement with Daniyal Enterprises to resolve overtime and other FLSA violations alleged on behalf of 417 New Jersey gas station workers (Harris v. Daniyal Enter., D.N.J. No. 2:13-914). The $3 Million settlement includes $1 million in liquidated damages. In addition, Daniyal agreed to pay $91,000 in penalties.
This settlement is a reminder to all businesses that no operation is too small to go unnoticed by DOL enforcement divisions. The 417 employees in this case worked at 72 separate gas stations throughout New Jersey owned and operated by Daniyal Enterprises or one of its 14 related companies. This means the average station likely had just five to six attendants. Many small businesses mistakenly believe that they are too small to be noticed by the DOL and that they are not big enough to warrant an investigation. This is not the case. One complaint by just a single employee can initiate a DOL investigation at either the federal or state level, regardless of whether the establishment has 100 employees or just one. The NJDOL will also pursue anonymous complaints.
The Daniyal settlement also puts gas station owners on notice – your industry is on the DOL’s radar. In a March 7 statement about the settlement, Acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris stated, “Gas station attendants are few in number, earn low wages, work long hours and often lack English proficiency – factors that contribute to their vulnerability as well as the importance of protecting their right to be paid properly.”
There is no way to prevent an investigation. But performing a wage and hour compliance audit can reduce your exposure if and when one occurs.
For more information about the firm’s wage and hour compliance audit services, please contact John R. Vreeland, Esq., Director of the firm’s Wage & Hour Compliance Practice Group, firstname.lastname@example.org