J&J Snack Foods Corp. and its two staffing providers will pay more than $2.1 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 677 contingent workers following two federal investigations, the US Department of Labor announced.

One investigation found 465 workers at J&J’s Swedesboro, N.J., facility — provided by Voorhees, N.J.-based staffing firm Sebastian and Sebastian LLC — were paid straight time for overtime hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, according to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. In response, J&J agreed to pay almost $1.3 million in back wages and liquidated damages to these workers.

The department also assessed a $20,000 civil penalty for the willful, repeat nature of the violations found in the latest investigation in New Jersey.

Earlier this year, the department found that J&J and Pennpak — a King of Prussia, Penn.-based staffing firm that provided workers at the J&J facility in Chambersburg, Penn. — failed to pay their workers at least the federal minimum wage and overtime. In that case, J&J agreed to pay 212 temporary workers $920,000 in back wages and liquidated damages.

In its investigations, the department determined J&J jointly employed the temporary workers provided by both Sebastian and Pennpak.

“In our modern economy, it’s common for a lead business — or brand name — to contract out many activities to be performed by other businesses, contributing to a fissured workplace,” said David Weil, administrator for the wage and hour division. “As profit margins get squeezed along the labor supply chain, there is a greater likelihood of wage violations.

“When a joint-employment relationship exists, we will hold those companies accountable when wage violations occur and workers are cheated,” Weil said. “At the same time, we are committed to educating employers and offering them the guidance they need to comply with the law and protect workers’ rights.”

In addition to payment of back wages and damages in both agreements, J&J is taking the following steps for a period of 18 months to ensure future Fair Labor Standards Act compliance:

  • Include a written provision in all contracts with temporary staffing agencies requiring compliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the FLSA
  • Review a sampling of their temporary staffing agency payroll records at least four times a year to ensure payment in compliance with the FLSA
  • Provide a list of all the temporary staffing agencies with which J&J contracts to the Wage and Hour Division

J&J Snack Foods Corp. is based in Pennsauken, N.J, with manufacturing, warehousing and other facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon. The company also has operations in Mexico and Canada.

The investigations were part of the Wage and Hour Division’s “Temporary Help” initiative.

In a separate case in July, a US District Court consent judgment ordered a Philadelphia direct mail and printing company and its staffing providers to pay $1.45 million in back wages and damages.

“Companies may find temporary staffing services useful in addressing their staffing needs, but their use should not come at the expense of fair and legal wages for temporary workers,” said Mark Watson, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Northeast region. “Those who contract with outside companies for temporary help have an obligation to ensure these workers are paid in compliance with the law.”