City: Galewood Sprint store violated minimum wage law; faces fine, owes back pay

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A Sprint store in the Galewood neighborhood violated the city’s minimum wage ordinance and owes back pay to some workers, according to Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Owners of a Sprint store in the city’s Galewood neighborhood have been shorting their employees’ paychecks since 2015, Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said Friday.

A recent investigation of the store, at 7112 West North Avenue, found it was violating city minimum wage laws, and owed 14 employees back pay ranging from $25 to over $1,200, department officials said.

The store got on the city’s radar after one employee filed a complaint with the city department, which then discovered that 13 other employees weren’t earning as much as they should be.

Overall, the store owes more than $3,000 to its workers and is facing up to $150,000 in fines. This is the first time fines will be levied against a Chicago business for not complying with the city’s minimum wage ordinance since it was passed in 2014.

The city ordinance went into effect in July 2015 when the minimum wage was $8.25. The minimum wage is now $11, and will increase $2 over the next two years. After July 2020, the wage will be tied to the rate of inflation, with increases not to exceed 2.5 percent, according to the BACP.

“By 2019, the minimum wage ordinance will have increased earnings for approximately 410,000 Chicago workers, injected $860 million into the local economy, and lifted 70,000 workers out of poverty,” Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the department, said in a news release.

Since 2015, investigators have recovered more than $200,000 in back pay for 75 minimum-wage employees working for 61 different companies.

According to the Sprint website, the Galewood store is operated by AirCorp, a Sprint authorized retailer than runs 40 Sprint stores in Illinois and Indiana. AirCorp did not respond to requests for comment, and a manager at the store said he could not comment.

The store has been operated by three different owners since 2015, and all are being held accountable for money owed to underpaid workers.

According to the department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, it previously focused on educating employers about the ordinance, but has taken a more aggressive approach this year.

“They know what the law is now, so we’ve moved from education to prosecution,” Lilia A. Chacon, director of public information for the department, said Friday.

Chacon said the majority of cases handled by the department stem from complaints. Workers who want to file a complaint can call 311, or go online: www.cityofchicago.org/BACP.

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