A Rostraver couple agreed in federal court to pay $281,029 in back wages, plus $1,762 in civil penalties, for intentionally shortchanging two gas station employees over 30 months.
U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn J. Horan in Pittsburgh approved the consent decree between Om Shiva Enterprises Inc. which owns and operates a Sunoco gas station convenience store on 1479 Old Broadhead Road in Center Township, Beaver County, and the U.S Department of Labor.
Om Shiva, which is owned by Durlabhju Ukani, 69, and his wife, Bhartiben Ukani, 61, admitted in the decree that the store intentionally underpaid a married couple who worked and lived at the store.
The Ukanis, who also operate gas stations throughout Western Pennsylvania in Beaver Falls, Charleroi, Cranberry, Duquesne, Finleyville, Millvale, New Stanton, Pittsburgh and Washington, agreed to stop violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and pay back wages to the couple.
The judgment followed a U.S. Department of Labor Hour and Wage Division investigation.
The department found the Ukanis failed to pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and did not pay overtime rates when the employees worked more than 40 hours a week. Investigators determined the wife worked 70 hours a week, typically without any pay at all, while her husband worked additional unpaid hours after his shift ended.
“These employers violated the law intentionally and exploited this vulnerable couple,” said wage and hour division District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh. “The wage and hour division will be tireless in its efforts to stem exploitation and hold employers accountable when they shortchange workers by denying them legally earned wages.”
The division also found the employers had no records of the wife’s hours of work from November 2018 to April 2021 and the limited records they did provide showed start and end times without daily or weekly totals, a federal recordkeeping violation.
“Monaca Sunoco stole wages from these workers, harming them and their family and cheating employers who play by the rules,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia. “This judgment sends a clear message to employers that failure to pay employees their rightfully earned wages comes at a high cost.”
Attempts to reach the Ukanis for comment were unsuccessful.