CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Department of Labor officials announced that they recovered $50,720 in damages regarding 80 North and South Carolina employees of a gas station owner recently.

Federal officials also issued a $16,832 fine to Shaun Sej Inc. for repeated violations

The Charlotte-based company owns seven locations: two Charlotte stations and two Lancaster stations, with additional locations in Catawba, Fort Mill, and Chester.

Department of Labor officials said the employer illegally deducted cash drawer shortages from employees’ wages. By doing so, the employer paid workers less than the federal minimum wage in some workweeks, violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Officials found that Sej paid some employees by check for 40 hours, then paid cash at straight-time rates for hours over 40 in a workweek. 

The employer also failed to include additional incentive pay, $1 per hour paid to workers during the pandemic, in some employees’ regular rates when calculating overtime rates. Both practices led to the employer paying overtime rates less than the law required.

Sej had similar violations in 2001 and 2017 investigations. Officials determined that the employer paid a fixed salary for non-exempt employees and failed to pay employees for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

“There is no wiggle room regarding federal wage laws. Employers must pay workers every penny they have earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “Employers who intentionally defy the law harm their employees and cheat their competitors. The Wage and Hour Division will continue to hold those who break the law accountable.”

The company participated in the PPP program in May 2020. The corporation received a loan between $150,000 to $350,000 to stay open during the pandemic.