PENNSAUKEN, N.J. — J&J Snack Foods Corp. has agreed to pay more than $2.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 677 workers after federal investigators found temporary production line workers at J&J Snack Foods were denied wages by the company and two staffing firms hired to provide the workers. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found J&J and the staffing firms denied minimum wage and overtime pay to workers as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
J&J Snack Foods’ products include baked goods under the Country Home Bakers, Mary B's and SuperPretzel brand names, and frozen food products under the ICEE, Luigi’s, Slush Puppie, Minute Maid Juice Bars and WholeFruit labels. Its products are sold nationwide at stadiums and arenas; department, chain and convenience stores; discount and warehouse clubs; theme parks; movie theatres; schools and colleges; and retail supermarkets.
|U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez|
“Many hourly workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and they rely on every penny to pay the rent, feed their families, and keep the lights on,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Cheating workers out of the wages they’ve earned hurts them, their families and entire communities. Paying workers properly isn’t a nice thing to do, it’s the law. We will continue to use our enforcement authority to ensure all workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
The D.O.L. investigation found 465 workers at J&J Snack Foods’ Swedesboro, N.J., plant provided by staffing firm Sebastian and Sebastian L.L.C. were paid straight time for overtime hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, in violation of federal law. In response, J&J Snack Foods agreed to pay a total of $1,260,254 in back wages and liquidated damages to the workers.
In addition, the D.O.L. assessed a $20,000 civil penalty for the willful, repeat nature of the violations found in the latest investigation in New Jersey. Earlier this year, the department found that J&J Snack Foods and Pennpak, a staffing firm that provided workers at the J&J facility in Chambersburg, Pa., failed to pay their workers at least the federal minimum wage and overtime. In that case, J&J Snack Foods agreed to pay 212 temporary workers $920,000 in back wages and liquidated damages.
“In our modern economy, it’s common for a lead business — or brand name — to contract out many activities to be performed by other businesses, contributing to a fissured workplace,” said David Weil, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. “As profit margins get squeezed along the labor supply chain, there is a greater likelihood of wage violations.”
In addition to payment of back wages and damages in both agreements, J&J Snack Foods is taking the following steps for a period of 18 months to ensure future F.L.S.A. compliance:
• Include a written provision in all contracts with temporary staffing agencies requiring compliance with the minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the F.L.S.A.
• Review a sampling of their temporary staffing agency payroll records at least four times a year to ensure payment in compliance with the F.L.S.A.
• Provide a list of all the temporary staffing agencies with which J&J contracts to the Wage and Hour Division.
Responding to the investigations, Dennis Moore, chief financial officer of J&J Snack Foods, said, “We were completely unaware that the staffing agencies were not paying their employees properly. We now audit the payroll of each of the staffing firms we use to ensure compliance.”The D.O.L.’s investigations were conducted by the Wage and Hour Division’s southern New Jersey district office, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., district office. The cases were negotiated and resolved by attorneys in the department's Philadelphia and New York regional solicitors' offices.