Herr Foods worker alleges possibly illegal pay rules

Posted: October 25, 2013

On weekdays, Peter Singley, 28, of Pine Hill, works in the Herr Foods warehouse in Egg Harbor, N.J., doing usual warehouse functions - controlling inventory, unloading trucks.

And he gets paid the usual way, by the hour.

On weekends, though, it is different - and possibly illegal - motivated, Singley said in a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Camden on Tuesday, by Herr's desire to avoid triggering health-care coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

Singley said Herr Foods Inc., the Chester County snack-food manufacturer, had him working more than 50 hours a week, but jiggered his duties and pay to make it look as if he were working less than 30 hours.

Above 30 hours, the employer will have to provide health insurance or pay a fine when that portion of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in 2015.

And, the suit said, Herr should be paying overtime, according to the provisions of the New Jersey Wage Payment law.

Herr Foods could not be reached for comment.

"If companies want to avoid the threshold, they should do so with lawful methods," said Singley's lawyer, Matthew S. Wolf of Cherry Hill.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the suit said, Singley, who started at Herr in 2010, would work a total of at least 12 hours traveling to stores, making sure Herr's chips and pretzels were properly displayed.

Sometimes he would be paid a flat fee of $220 to $240 - recorded as a line item on his check, the lawsuit said.

Other times, Singley would be paid in cash "by the company to straw employees who did not perform the work and then cash payments would be made from those straw employees," the suit said.

Wolf said Singley's managers told him his work arrangements were designed to limit his official weekly hours to 30.

The lawsuit said that when Singley questioned managers about payment methods, he was told they could easily find someone else for the weekend work.


jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769

@JaneVonBergen

www.inquirer.com/jobbing

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