Jemison grocery store among 14 cited by U.S. Department of Labor

Published 6:39 pm Friday, January 13, 2012

Jemison Piggly Wiggly was among 14 franchisee-owned stores in Alabama and Mississippi punished by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

According to a DOL release, violations centered around minors being allowed or required to perform hazardous jobs, and employees being denied proper compensation for all hours worked.

But storeowner LaMerle Hamm said the violations at the Jemison Piggly Wiggly were not a case of minors performing hazardous jobs or employees not being compensated fairly.

“It has nothing to do with employee pay,” she said. “It was just a discrepancy. Under their rules, if you are a salaried employee, you have to have so many employees under you.”

Hamm indicated the violations were related to a Jemison Piggly Wiggly employee being compensated on a salary basis but not meeting the requirements of a supervisor, “because there aren’t enough people in that department,” she said.

“Everything has been corrected, and we’ve got a clean bill of health,” Hamm said. “I believe that if you contact any employee I’ve got, they’ll tell you that I pay them fairly. I want to treat my employees just like I would want to be treated,” Hamm said.

Hamm said she’s been running the Jemison Piggly Wiggly since 1968.

Jemison’s store was one of 10 Alabama Piggly Wiggly franchises cited for violations; other Alabama stores are in Alexander City, Ashville, Bay Minette, Camden, Cherokee, Evergreen, Northport, Phenix City, and Troy. Mississippi Piggly Wiggly stores in Canton, Pickens, Tylertown and Vicksburg were also fined.

According to the DOL release, significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor and wage provisions were found during multi-year investigations focused on the grocery store industry in the two states, where “widespread noncompliance with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and child labor provisions has been found,” and the stores were fined a combined $53,037 and ordered to pay wages totaling $12,547 to employees who were denied proper compensation for all hours worked.

“We are concerned about the large population of low-wage and vulnerable workers, particularly minors, employed by grocery stores in Alabama and Mississippi at which the division has found significant child labor violations,” said Kenneth Stripling, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Gulf Coast District Office. “The goal of this ongoing initiative is to remedy systemic wage and child labor violations, educate employers about their legal responsibilities and promote sustained compliance throughout the industry.”

Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor is available at For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Gulf Coast office at 205-397-7100, its Jackson office at 601-965-4347 or the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at