Despite being one-third employee-owned, the convenience store chain Stewart's Shops is being sued by a group of unhappy employees. According to the class action lawsuit filed in Albany, the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to compensate thousands of workers for work they rendered.
The lawsuit claims that employees were regularly required to perform work-related duties before and after their scheduled shifts but were not compensated for the extra work they did. Employees were also allegedly deprived of meal breaks on a routine basis, were not provided information on their wages and had to pay to maintain and launder their own uniforms.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 4,500 former and current employees; the suit is asking for compensation totaling $20 million.
Based in Sarasota Springs, the company operates more than 300 stores in both New York and Vermont. According to the company's website, two-thirds of the company is family owned and the remaining one-third is owned by employees, which is implied in the company's slogan "We are closer to you".
Incorrect wages, unpaid overtime and denial of benefits are serious violations of employee rights. Not only do employees often have to work extremely hard to get such benefits, but federal law also requires that employers provide their employees with what they legally owe them in terms of proper wages and other types of compensation.
Employers who do not meet their obligations can be held accountable when employees file legal action detailing employer violations. A New York employee who finds himself in a similar situation can file a lawsuit personally or follow the example set by the employees of Stewart's Shops and file a class action lawsuit.
Source: Cspnet.com, "Stewart's Shops Faces Wage & Hour Lawsuit," Jan. 14, 2014