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Chinatown Supermarket ordered by feds to pay back wages, damages for labor law violations

Posted at 2:06 PM, Jul 25, 2023

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — An enforcement action by the U.S. Department of Labor collected over $500,000 in back wages for 148 Utah workers, as well as damages from one of the state's largest Asian grocers.

Chinatown Supermarket was also hit with a preliminary injunction for attempting to prevent investigators from interviewing employees, and instructing employees to tell investigators they worked no more than 40 hours per week.

The action stems from an April 2022 investigation when federal officials first accused the company of obstructing their efforts.

Documents obtained during the investigation found the grocer only reported up to 80 hours in a pay period and paid a weekly bonus equivalent to straight time for overtime hours worked instead of time and a half.

“Supermarket industry workers are often paid flat daily or weekly rates of pay and are deprived of their earned overtime pay. These workers depend on every dollar they earn to care for themselves and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Betty Campbell.

A consent order signed in April 2023 required Chinatown Supermarket and its parent company to pay $251,305 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected employees, and as well as $22,390 in civil money penalties for the overtime violations.

“The Department of Labor will hold employers fully accountable to prevent future violations and make sure competitors are not undercut by illegal pay practices. Our work helps workers and employers who follow the law.”