Snack Food Company to pay $2.1 million for repeated FLSA violations
J&J Snacks Foods’ Products, a leading North American manufacturer and distributor of popular food and beverages has agreed to pay more than $2.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to its 677 workers after it was revealed by two federal investigations that the production line workers were denied their wages by the company and the two staffing firms that were hired to provide the workers.
J&J products include baked goods under brand names like Country Home Bakers and SuperPretzel and frozen foods under ICEE and Slush Puppie and these products are sold worldwide in movie theaters, retail supermarkets, chain and convenience stores etc.
Fair Labor Standards Act under 29 U.S. Code § 206 and § 207 provides for providing minimum wages and overtime pay to workers. Herein, 465 workers that were provided by the staffing firm, Sebastian and Sebastian LLC working at J&J Snack Foods’ Swedesboro, New Jersey plant were paid straight time for overtime hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek for which J&J has now agreed to pay a total of $1,260,254 in back wages and liquidated damages. J&J shall also pay a total sum of $920,000 as back wages and liquidated damages to 212 temporary workers that were provided by Pennpak, a staffing firm that provided workers at the J&J facility in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania after failing to pay them federal minimum wage and overtime.
Furthermore, pursuant to an investigation by Department of Labor, J&J has been penalized with $20,000 as civil penalty for willful and repeated violations of FLSA. In addition to the damages and back wages paid by J&J, it is also required to take the following steps for a period of 18 months ensuring FLSA compliance:
- Including in every agreement with temporary staffing firms, a written provision requiring compliance with minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of FLSA.
- Ensuring payment is in compliance with FLSA by reviewing a sample of a temporary staffing agency’s payroll at least four times a year.
- Providing to the Wage and Hour Division a list of all the temporary staffing agencies J&J has contracts with.
David Weil, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division has said that for a lead business to continue, it contracts out many of its activities to be performed by other businesses and this contributes to a fissured workplace which causes the profit margins to squeeze along the labor supply chain, highly increasing the chances of wage violations.
Also, Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor has further said that they will continue to use their enforcement authority to ensure that all workers receive fair day’s pay for fair day’s work since a lot of people rely on their daily wages to meet their basic requirements and depriving the workers of their wages hurts not only them but also their families as well as the entire communities and not paying them well is not the right thing to do.
Although, Dennis Moore, chief financial officer of J&J Snack Foods has stated that they were unaware of improper payments being made to the employees by the staffing firms and has assured that they shall now audit payrolls of each staffing firm to ensure compliance with FLSA.