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January 16, 2004
Auto Parts Company Finds Compliance Issues under Hood

The W.E. Lahr Company, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based company with a nationwide chain of retail automobile parts suppliers, has paid $131,658 in back overtime wages to 127 employees following a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) self-audit supervised by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Investigators from the department's Wage and Hour Division contacted the firm and, following an explanation of the FLSA's legal requirements, the company realized they had mistakenly classified some salaried employees as being exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements, according to the department.

Additionally, the firm had employed 26 sixteen- and seventeen-year-old minors as "parts runners," which required them to operate a motor vehicle on public roads in order to deliver parts, according to the department. The youth employment provisions of the FLSA establish a minimum age of 18 for occupations in which driving is a primary duty. As part of the resolution of the case, the employer agreed to pay a civil money penalty of $17,400 for these violations.

The department says the company had no history of previous FLSA violations and acted quickly to correct the problems, so no additional fines or penalties were assessed.

The company operates the stores as Midwest Auto Parts Distributors, Champion Auto Stores, and Bumper-to-Bumper Auto Parts.

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