STATION OWNER TO PAY $3M IN WAGE CLAIMS

The owner of Red Bank’s Shell gasoline station has agreed to pay current and former employees of 72 New Jersey filling stations $3 million in overtime back wages, the federal Labor Department reported Thursday.

Waseem Chaudhary was also fined $91,000 in civil penalties “because of the repeat and willful nature of the violations,” the agency said in a news release.

Investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour division found that attendants at Chaudhary’s stations “often worked up to 84 hours per week, but did not receive earned overtime pay. Instead, many employees were paid partly on the payroll and partly off the books, sometimes in cash, to disguise the improper payment of overtime.”

In a settlement filed in federal District Court, Chaudhary agreed to pay 417 workers $2 million in back overtime and another $1 million in damages. He also agreed to submit to three years of oversight by an independent monitor who will report to the department.

Terms of the deal also require the installation of biometric time clocks in each establishment; a notice to workers regarding the terms of the compliance agreement; rights training for all employees in English and other languages; an anti-kickback protection clause to ensure that all workers are paid any back wages due; and a toll-free telephone number for workers to report violations to the monitor, the agency said.

Chaudhary has an application pending with the Red Bank zoning board to construct a 7-Eleven shop on a portion of the property where he operates a Shell station, at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Newman Springs Road. Hearings on the plan are scheduled to continue March 21.