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Suit claims $100,000 in back wages owed

Attorney says matter close to being ‘settled.’ Govt disagrees

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing an operator of 12 Ohio gas stations for allegedly breaking federal laws on paying overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping.

The owner, R&R Takhar Operations Inc., has stations under the Sunoco, Marathon and Shell Oil brands in Anna, Beavercreek, Franklin, Sidney, Springfield and elsewhere. The government is suing to recover back wages and “liquidated damages” that it argues are due to 80 employees.

The government says it is concerned that the operator’s employees aren’t aware of their rights.

“As demonstrated by this lawsuit, we will vigorously pursue violators and use all enforcement tools available to recover workers’ wages and ensure compliance with the law,” George Victory, director of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division’s Columbus office, said in a statement.

An initial complaint was filed in December 2012 in Cincinnati’s federal court. Investigators found that minimum wage violations happened when gas station employees performed work before and after shifts and were not compensated, the Labor Department alleged. And the company required workers to pay back cash register shortages or pay when customers stole gasoline, the government said.

Salaries did not include an overtime premium of time and a half, and overtime was often “banked” as credit for time off or paid in cash at a rate of $7 per hour, the government charged. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, plus time and a half for hours worked beyond 40 per week.

R&R Takhar Oil Co. is based on Poe Avenue in Dayton. The company’s web site identifies Randy Singh Takhar and Paul Takhar as owners.

The company’s Dayton attorney, Michael Joseph Burdge, said the company has worked with the government and corrected the problems listed in the lawsuit.

“What the lawsuit is about is what happened in the past, nothing about the future,” he said.

Burdge attributed any violations to actions of individual managers at individual stations. The owners of R&R Takhar were not aware of violations, he said.

He believes the case will be settled without a trial.

“As far as the current case, I think we’re on the verge of having it settled,” Burdge said.

Labor Department spokesman Scott Allen said an amended complaint was filed on May 24. But he disagreed that a settlement is near.

“We are no closer to settling this case than we were in December,” Allen said. “The company is simply not responding to the Labor Department’s nor the court’s request to come to an agreement in this case.”

He said the department is looking out for the “best interest” of employees. He said the company owes employees more than $100,000 in back wages.

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