For Immediate Release - September 13, 2011

West Springfield Car Dealership Agrees to Pay More Than $450,000 in Restitution and Penalties for Violating Wage and Hour Laws

BOSTON - A West Springfield car dealership, Balise Motor Sales, Inc (Balise), and its president, James E. Balise, Jr., have agreed to pay more than $450,000 in restitution, as well as a $7,500 penalty for violating the Commonwealth's wage and hour laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today.

"In these particularly difficult economic times, many employees are working longer hours to make ends meet. Employers are required by law to pay their employees all of the wages they are owed, and our office will continue to ensure that workers' rights are protected," AG Coakley said.

In September 2010, the AG's Fair Labor Division began an investigation after it received a complaint from a former employee alleging minimum wage and overtime pay violations. Investigators reviewed the company's payroll records and discovered that Balise was not calculating the proper overtime rate for employees who worked over 40 hours in a work week. In addition, investigators discovered that Balise was not paying the minimum wage rate to some of its employees.

The AG's Office requested that Balise also conduct a self-audit of its payroll records for the years of 2008 through 2010. The audit revealed that Balise failed to calculate the proper overtime rate and, in some instances, failed to pay the minimum wage. As a result of the investigation, Balise has agreed to pay $339,871.36 in restitution for the overtime violations and $110,766.27 for minimum wage violations to more than 270 employees.

The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws, and the payment of wages laws in the Commonwealth. Workers who feel that these laws have been violated in their workplace are urged to call the Office's Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website: www.massworkrights.com.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terri Flanagan Lamarre and investigated by Inspector Paul Gordon, both of the Attorney General's Fair Labor Division.

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