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Federal agency determines Giant short-changed more than 3,300 employees over $165,000 in overtime pay during the pandemic

Giant said the miscalculation discovered by the U.S. Dept. of Labor was unintentional and voluntarily resolved.
Credit: WPMT

CARLISLE, Pa. — A federal agency determined Giant Company shorted approximately 3,300 essential supermarket workers in four states more than $165,000 in overtime pay due to a miscalculation of overtime rates.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Giant ignored lump sum bonus payments made to the workers when calculating their overtime rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the shortage.

The 3,314 affected workers were employed in 192 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, the department said. 

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Giant increased workers’ hourly rates $2 per hour from March 2020 through May 2020 and calculated overtime correctly. In May 2020, the employer decreased the hourly wage by $2 and began paying lump sum bonuses instead. 

When they did, they failed to include those bonus amounts in workers’ regular rates when calculating overtime pay due, resulting in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department said. Excluding bonus amounts from the calculation resulted in Giant paying overtime at rates lower than those the law requires. 

The employer paid lump sum bonuses in June 2020, October 2020 and February 2021.

The investigation led to the recovery of $165,653 in back wages, the department said.

“Grocery workers are among our lowest-paid essential workers, and deserve to take home every penny of the wages they earn,” said Wage and Hour Division Wilkes-Barre District Office Director Al Gristina. “Shifting pay from the hourly rate to a bonus does not mean the employer can exclude it when calculating overtime. The Wage and Hour Division offers extensive educational materials to employers so that they understand their responsibilities clearly, and we invite them to contact us directly with any questions they may have. Trained professionals are available to answer questions from employers and employees alike, confidentially, in more than 200 languages.”

A Giant spokesperson issued the following statement to FOX43 regarding the results of the investigation:

"The pandemic affirmed what we’ve long known: our team members are our greatest resource. We were among the first in our region to provide Appreciation Pay, as well as an Appreciation Bonus, for all team members in our stores and distribution centers, in recognition of the incredible service they provided to our customers during an unprecedented time. 

"To be clear, there was no formal complaint by the U.S. Department of Labor against The GIANT Company at any time. As soon as we became aware of this unintentional miscalculation regarding the overtime payment for COVID related bonuses to our team members, we immediately worked to voluntarily resolve the situation."

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