Hispanic market in Illinois charged nearly $400K in back-pay issue

Supermercado Carrera, which has operated in Aurora, Illinois, since 2014, shortchanged employees on their overtime wages, the Department of Labor said.
Supermercado Carrera must pay nearly $400,000 in back wages to 49 workers. / Photo: Shutterstock

A family-owned supermarket in Illinois has been ordered to pay nearly $400,000 in back wages to 49 workers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Monday.

Supermercado Carrera, located in Aurora, Illinois, paid several employees straight-time wages for overtime and didn’t give them the legally required time and a half premium for working more than 40 hours, the agency found. Plus, the store incorrectly classified some employees as exempt from overtime, the DOL said.

The grocer paid $199,925 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, as well as $734 in civil penalties that were assessed after investigators discovered that a minor-aged employee worked beyond permitted hours, the DOL said.

“The nearly $400,000 in back wages and damages our investigation recovered will make a significant difference in the lives of 49 workers and their families,” said Chicago-based Wage and Hour Division District Director Tom Gauza, in a statement. “Typically, small grocers employ low-wage and vulnerable workers likely unaware of their basic rights to the federal minimum wage and overtime pay. Workers in the U.S. have the right to be paid their full earned wages.”

WGB called Supermercado Carrera Monday for comment on the DOL’s findings, but the person who answered the phone hung up.

The grocery store, located about 40 miles west of Chicago, has been in business since 2014, selling Hispanic groceries, fresh produce, Mexican-style baked goods, hot foods, fresh-squeezed juices and housemade tacos, according to its website.

The DOL said it is working to make sure all workers know their rights surrounding wages and benefits.

“We continue to work with local worker’s advocacy groups, consulates and other community resources to educate workers about their rights,” Gauza said. “Failing to pay accurate wages is an issue across a myriad of industries. Employers or workers with questions should reach out to Wage and Hour for information.”



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