The state has charged another New Haven grocery with wage theft.
The latest target: J&B Deli Grocery at 1147 Chapel St. The state Department of Labor Monday issued a “stop work” order against the business for working two employees about 60 hours a week without paying minimum wage or overtime.
“Investigators also determined that the deli owners were paying the workers in cash, were not keeping required payroll records, failed to make legal deductions, and could not show proof of carrying workers’ compensation coverage, which is required in Connecticut,” the department stated in a press release.
Under a stop work order, an employer “must show proof of having required workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance coverage, as well as accurate payroll records and documentation that workers are being paid the required wages,” according to the release. “Additionally, under state law, a $300 fine can be assessed for each week that an employee is working while not on the payroll.”
J&B violated the order by reopening Tuesday, according to Gary Pechie, director of wage and workplace standards for the labor department. He said the department will fine the deli $1,000 for that violation.
He also said the restaurant’s owner admitted that the two employees in question lack social security numbers.
Pechie told the Independent that the sanction is part of “our continuing efforts to get the message out to restaurants in the New Haven area” to comply with labor laws. He said the effort will expand beyond New Haven.
“We’re working very closely with them to get back on track. It’s a wake-up call.”
John Rhee, co-owner of the deli, told the Independent that he paid the employees in full. “They signed the paperwork” when he paid in cash, he said in a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon. He said he had an appointment planned with his lawyer to go over the paperwork to present to the state. He said he sent his employees home Tuesday and closed the shop while he attends to the matter.
Local and state officials put employers on notice last month that they will prosecute wage-theft cases, after the arrest of the owner of Gourmet Heaven. Click here to read about that.