Snack Food Company pays $2.1M to Workers Cheated out of Overtime Pay
Two federal investigations have found that temporary production line workers at a leading North American manufacturer and distributor of popular food and beverages such as Minute Maid Juice Bards and Super Pretzel were significantly cheated out of their wages by the company and two staffing firms hired to provide the workers. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found J&J Snack Foods Corp.and the staffing firms denied minimum wage and overtime pay to workers as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As a result, J&J — a repeat FLSA violator — has agreed to pay a total of more than $2.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 677 workers. “Many hourly workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and they rely on every penny to pay the rent, feed their families, and keep the lights on. Cheating workers out of the wages they’ve earned hurts them, their families and entire communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Paying workers properly isn’t a nice thing to do, it’s the law. We will continue to use our enforcement authority to ensure all workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” The department’s most recent investigation found 465 workers at J&J’s Swedesboro facility provided by staffing firm Sebastian and Sebastian LLC were paid straight time for overtime hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, in violation of federal law. In response, J&J agreed to pay a total of $1,260,254 in back wages and liquidated damages to these workers. In its investigations, the Department of Labor determined J&J jointly employed the temporary workers provided by both Sebastian and Pennpak. Joint employment exists where workers have an employment relationship with one employer such as a staffing agency, and the economic realities show that they are economically dependent on — and thus employed by — another entity involved in the work. Where a joint employment exists, both companies may be held accountable for the violation of workers’ rights. These investigations were part of the Wage and Hour Division’s “Temporary Help” initiative. Earlier this year, the division found that workers at a Philadelphia printing company were owed $1.4 million in back wages and liquidated damages for minimum wage and overtime violations committed by their employers. “Companies may find temporary staffing services useful in addressing their staffing needs, but their use should not come at the expense of fair and legal wages for temporary workers,” said Mark Watson, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Northeast Region. “Those who contract with outside companies for temporary help have an obligation to ensure these workers are paid in compliance with the law.”
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