CARLISLE, Pa. (WTAJ) — The GIANT company bonus payments made to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic when calculating overtime, shortchanging workers in four states more than $165k, the U.S. Department of Labor said Monday.
According to the Wage and Hour Division, the miscalculation came when the Giant Company increased workers’ hourly rates by $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.
In the process, The Giant Company failed to include the bonus amounts in workers’ regular rates when calculating overtime pay, an error the company said was resolved as soon as they were aware of the issue.
Miscalculating the bonus caused Giant to pay overtime at rates lower than those the law requires. The employer paid lump-sum bonuses in June 2020, October 2020 and February 2021, the Dept. of Labor stated.
“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.”
-Ashley Flower, Manager, Public Relations for The GIANT Company
“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 Dept. of Labor recovered $165,653 in back ages for 3,314 workers at 192 Giant Company stores right here in Pennsylvania, as well as Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.