A Canton tire retailer and auto shop shortchanged 19 workers by withholding first paychecks and paying overtime at rates lower than required, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has determined.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Cherokee Tire Service LLC kept some workers’ first weekly paychecks as a uniform deposit, which led to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employer also failed to pay some non-exempt salaried workers time-and-one-half of their regular rate for overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in the workweek.
Cherokee Tire also did not add certain bonuses into workers’ hourly rates as required when calculating overtime rates. By doing so, the employer paid overtime at rates lower than the law requires. In addition, the division also found the employer failed to keep accurate records of work hours and overtime premiums paid.
The division recovered $161,983 in back wages and liquidated damages for the affected workers. The division conducted the investigation as part of the Southeast region’s auto care initiative. Earlier this year, another tire company with locations in Georgia and South Carolina paid more than $79,000 to 72 workers as a result of overtime violations found by agency investigators.
“When business owners fail to pay full wages for the work their employees do, these workers and their families must work harder to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “Employers who fail to meet their obligations to workers may find it difficult to retain and recruit the employees they need to make their businesses successful.”
In fiscal year 2021, the division recovered more than $4.3 million for more than 3,500 U.S. auto repair industry workers. Notably, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 1.9 million workers in the South quit their current jobs in March 2022, the highest of its four regions. A compliance assistance toolkit is available for the Auto Repair and Maintenance industry.
Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP
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