April 3, 2007 -- The owner of a chain of gas stations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut is being fined $100,000 for paying employees below the current federal minimum wage, the Labor Department reported this week.

The move comes as Congress wrestles with competing bills aimed at raising the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the next two years -- the first increase in over a decade.

Chestnut Petroleum, which operates 37 gas stations throughout the tri-state area, is being forced to pay its 767 employees a total of $900,000 in back wages, the agency said.

A federal investigation determined that the employees were underpaid between April 20, 2003, and May 28, 2006, while the owner failed to keep required payroll records, the agency said.

"This administration is committed to ensuring that workers are paid all of the wages they have earned," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

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Published on: Apr 3, 2007