Utah’s largest Asian grocer was ordered to pay $525,000 in back wages, penalties and damages as a result of a U.S. Department of Labor investigation.
Chinatown Supermarket, a family-owned grocer in Salt Lake City Chinatown, faced a federal lawsuit
in March 2022 for obstructing an investigation regarding its labor practices.
According to a news release from the Wage and Hour division, a preliminary injunction against the supermarket was obtained when they “attempted to prevent investigators from interviewing employees and instructing employees to tell investigators that they did not work more than 40 hours per week.”
Chinatown Wholesale LLC, which is owned by the same family who owns the supermarket, was also issued a subpoena “to obtain documents about the companies’ pay practices,” the press release read.
Documents obtained in the subpoena showed Chinatown Supermarket only reported up to 80 hours in a pay period. For overtime hours, employees were instead paid a weekly bonus “equivalent to straight time for overtime hours worked,” violating the Fair Labor and Standards Act, which requires employers
to “pay time and one-half the regular rate
of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek.”
A U.S. District Court for Utah ordered Chinatown Supermarket and Chinatown Wholesale LLC to pay two equal sums totaling $251,305 in back wages and damages as well as liquidated damages to employees, plus $22,390 in overtime violations penalties.
According to the Department of Labor, the companies paid the back wages and penalties in full in June.