Sterling to pay nearly $1.3 million in back wages

Sterling Jewelers Inc., has agreed to pay nearly $1.3 million in back wages to resolve violations of the Fair Labor Standard Act overtime requirements, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. Sterling agreed to pay the back wages to 16,820 current and former employees of its retail stores operating at 1,200 locations in 41 states. The company does business under 14 retail names around the country.

A complaint and consent judgment was filed June 12, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The consent judgment also enjoins the company from future violations of the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. Sterling voluntarily disclosed the violations to the department, and worked cooperatively with the department to ensure that the violations were fully and satisfactorily resolved, the labor department said.

The labor department said that the Akron, Ohio-based company failed to include incentive pay in the calculation of overtime and it failed to pay employees for all hours worked, which the employees had entered using the firm’s electronic timekeeping system. Each of those violations contributed to workers being paid less than time and one-half their regular pay for hours worked over 40 in a single workweek as required by the FLSA. The back wage payments cover the period from Nov. 2, 2003 to Feb. 25, 2006.

The FLSA requires employers to pay covered employees at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one- half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.