One of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets for cheap fruits and vegetables may be forced to raise its stunning low prices after the Labor Department ordered it to pay nearly $700,000 in back wages to workers who were not paid minimum wage and overtime.
Rossman Fruit and Vegetable, a warehouse-priced produce stand under the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway that attracts produce-hungry residents from Sunset Park as well as bargain-hungry Park Slopers, has already begun paying $675,000 in back wages and interest to 222 employees, the Labor Department said this week.
According to the 2004 lawsuit, employees at Rossman Farm, which is at Third Avenue and 22nd Street, were overworked and underpaid — and when federal officials questioned the management, they discovered that the fruit store did not keep accurate records of its employees’ hours.
Federal law requires non-professional workers to be paid time-and-a-half for all hours above 40 per week, but there was no evidence that Rossman Farm was doing that.
“Now we know why they were able to charge such low prices!” said one regular Rossman’s shopper, a Park Slope resident who declined to give her name because she says she intends to keep shopping at the store “despite the moral problem I have with them stiffing their workers.”
Labor Department spokesman John Chavez would neither confirm nor deny a link between the low prices and the low wages, saying only that Rossman’s owner, Nitzan Rozman, was up to date on his installment payments.
A man answering the phone at Rossman’s told a Brooklyn Paper reporter that the owner was out of the country and could not be reached.
©2007 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.