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Madison Gas Station Owner Owes Employees Millions

Borough man has agreed to pay $2 million in overtime back wages and $1 million in damages to hundreds, the U.S. Department of Labor announced.

A Madison man has agreed to pay $2 million in overtime back wages and $1 million in damages to employees at gas stations he owns throughout New Jersey, including one on Main Street in the borough, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday.

Employees often worked up to 84 hours per week but did not receive earned overtime pay, a department news release said.

The agreement involves 417 workers at 72 gas stations owned by Waseem Chaudhary. A Shell station at 103 Main St. in Madison, which Chaudhary's Waseem Petroleum lists as its address, is one of the stations involved in the agreement.

The agreement was reached after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid one-and-a-half times their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 hours a week. The law also requires accurate records of employees’ wages and hours.

"Instead, many employees were paid partly on the payroll and partly off the books, sometimes in cash, to disguise the improper payment of overtime," the department said. "The employer also failed to maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked."

Because of the "repeat and willful nature of the violations," the department also assessed $91,000 in civil money penalties against him, the news release said.

Proactive measures to ensure future compliance with labor laws, including a three-year monitoring program at each gas station, are part of the agreement.

Other measures include biometric time clocks being installed in each establishment, a notice to workers about the terms of the compliance agreement, Fair Labor Standards Act training for all employees in English and other languages, and a toll-free telephone number for workers to report violations.

Voicemails seeking comment were left for Chaudhary on Thursday. An employee at the Madison Shell referred questions to Chaudhary and also took a message.

“This agreement returns hard-earned wages to workers in one of only two states that still mandates full-service gas pumps,” acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris said.

“All gas station owners and operators in New Jersey should take note of this precedent by reviewing their payroll practices and legal obligations. Gas station attendants are few in number, earn low wages, work long hours and often lack English proficiency—factors that contribute to their vulnerability as well as the importance of protecting their right to be paid properly.”

The department said a consent judgment outlining the terms of the agreement has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The monitoring program will be supervised by an independent monitor who will report to the department. 

For more information on the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the division’s Northern New Jersey Office at 908-317-8611, its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.

shell March 08, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Nice, wooo whoo. Too bad he was caught.
Mary Lea Crawley March 08, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Should Stop and Shop be supporting these gas stations with their point promotions if the employees are being taken advantage of?
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 08, 2013 at 04:36 PM
SnS has a deal with Shell, not the individual gas station owners. The real questions is - What responsibility does Shell take for policing the business practices of their franchisees? Their contracts must contain a section on violations of local, state and federal laws by the station owners, which brings negative publicity for the Shell brand. What does their spokesperson have to say about this?
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 08, 2013 at 04:39 PM
"Too bad he was caught," are you serious? How would you like to be ripped off by your employer? Doubt these guys were making much more than minimum wage. Instead of paying back wages and a miniscule fine, the owner should be paying back wages, a LARGE fine, and serving some time in the county lock-up and collecting trash on the side of Route 287.
Mrs. Clean March 08, 2013 at 06:02 PM
If this disturbs you, Heilman's is right across the street. The business has been family owned for approximately fifty years and the gas is generally priced the same as Shell. They have a good mechanic and worked hard to open after Sandy.
MadisonsDodgers March 08, 2013 at 11:15 PM
I will continue to go to the Shell station, this is the owners problem and not ours. I love the workers there and I have been going to his station for years and that will not change because of this.
Pamela McLaughlin March 08, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Now we all see how they have the cheapest price in town! They don't pay their employees! How could you run a business and not pay your employees what they are entilltled to? Don't buy from Madison Shell! Buy from Americian owned stations like Lukoil which has been family owned since 1960!!! They have fair prices always the Same cash and credit! No funny pricing! Always free Air & with every fill up they can check & fill any fluids You may need! Replace your wiper blades and replace any lights right at the pump while you are refueling! They are also a complete automotive repair facility and offer express oil changes and inspections any time!
Chris Johnson March 08, 2013 at 11:39 PM
I know for a fact that they sell cigarettes to under-age kids. Maybe that should be next.
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 09, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Lukoil is a Russian company - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lukoil Shell Oil is the US subsidiary of an Anglo-Dutch company.
Mikey D March 09, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Pam and John are the best mechanics in Madison. I've lived here 15 years and they are, hands down, the most professional, courteous and knowledgeable people I've encountered. Always fair pricing as well.
Pamela McLaughlin March 09, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Yes for years the shell has sold cigarettes to minors it really should be next! They have sold them to minors for over 20 years!
TiredofMadisonPolitics March 09, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Chris, if you do "know for a fact," have you contacted the Madison Police about the criminal activity?
TiredofMadisonPolitics March 09, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Pamela, I would ask the same of you: If you know that Madison Shell has been selling cigarettes to minors "for over 20 years," have you notified the Madison Police about this criminal activity.

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