The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $353,945 in back wages and liquidated damages for 79 sales associates at 12 New Jersey T-Mobile locations whose owners willfully denied the employees overtime wages for hours over 40 in a work week.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Morad Marashli and Kabaeil Barakat failed to pay the associates overtime at time-and-one-half their required rates of pay when required by law. Instead, they paid them in cash, off the books at straight time rate.
Their actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Marashii and Barakat operate Metro by T-Mobile locations in Bayonne, Union City, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Somerset.
In addition to the recovery of back wages and damages, the division assessed a civil money penalty of $38,670 due to the employers’ willful violation of the law. Sales associates worked at locations owned and operated by Marashli and Barakat, under multiple entities.
Barakat operates the following Metro by T-Mobile locations: 209 Mobile Inc.
at 209 Broad Street in Elizabeth; Broad Mobile Inc. at 87 Broad Street in Elizabeth; Elmora Mobile Inc. at 164B Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth; Elizabeth Mobile Inc. at 852 Elizabeth Avenue in Elizabeth; 3402 Bergenline Mobile Inc. at 3402 Bergenline Avenue in Union City; and 4200 Bergenline Mobile Inc. at 4200 Bergenline Avenue in Union City.
Marashli operates the following Metro by T-Mobile locations: Somerset Wireless Inc. at 458 Broadway in Bayonne; Colonia Mobile Inc at 1333 St. George Avenue in Colonia; 1169 Elizabeth Mobile Inc. at 1 Broad Street in Elizabeth; S&M Wireless Inc. at 356 Rahway Avenue in Elizabeth; S&M Wireless Inc. at 600 South Broad Street in Elizabeth; and Somerset Wireless Inc. at 752 Hamilton Street in Somerset.
Tackling wage theft
“Morad Marashli and Kabaeil Barakat denied their sales associates the full extent of their hard-earned wages, making it harder for them to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey. “Wage theft harms workers and their families and hurts responsible employers who abide by the law.”
In fiscal year 2021, the division recovered more than $13 million in back wages for more than 14,000 retail workers following 2,705 retail industry investigations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there were approximately 1.1 million job openings in the retail trade industry nationwide in April 2022, which is forcing employers to compete with one another to attract employees to fill open positions.
“As employers continue to search for the people they need to operate their businesses, those who fail to respect workers’ rights to full wages and benefits will find it more difficult to retain and recruit staff,” added Ruffin.
The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time-and-one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The agency encourages workers who think they may be owed back wages as a result of these or other federal investigations to use the Workers Owed Wages search tool or contact the Philadelphia Regional Office at (215) 861-5800.
Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of their immigration status, in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-487-9243. The agency’s new Timesheet App can also be downloaded for Android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
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