Department of Labor sues Sacramento City councilman

Government alleges he threatened to deport employees, violated child labor laws

Department of Labor sues Sacramento City councilman

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Sacramento City Councilman Sean Loloee for a variety of labor violations as owner of the local Viva Supermarket chain.

The federal government alleges that Loloee threatened to deport employees who cooperated with an investigation into his grocery stores, underpaid employees and employed minors in hazardous occupations, The Sacramento Bee reported. He’s been in the feds’ crosshairs for more than a decade – investigators in 2009 determined that Loloee and his companies violated federal laws regarding overtime compensation, minimum wage, child labor and recordkeeping, according to the lawsuit.

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“After each investigation, Defendant Loloee agreed to future compliance and to pay back wages owed,” the lawsuit states. “Despite these promises, the Secretary’s third and most recent investigation not only revealed flagrant ongoing violations of the (Fair Labor Standards Act), but that Defendant Loloee sought kickbacks from his employees who had received back wage payments in resolution of prior investigations.”

In 2020, the federal government ordered him to pay $35,423 in back wages, which he did, the complaint says. However, the lawsuit alleges he later coerced employees to return the back wages. According to the lawsuit, he had people impersonate investigators to gather information from his employees and identify which ones cooperated, threatening them with “immigration consequences, including deportation.”

The lawsuit also alleges that in addition to forcing employees to sign unknown documents that they weren’t allowed to read beforehand, he directed employees to lie about their employment, including about the number of hours they worked.

Loloee has employed at least five workers under the age of 18 to load and operate an industrial cardboard baler and to clean meat slicers and meat grinders, the lawsuit says. Additionally, he has employed children under 16 and had them work more than three hours a day when school was in session, and in excess of 18 hours a week, the lawsuit alleges.

He also violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act by failing to provide paid sick leave to employees who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names more than 60 employees and claims violations at stores in Rancho Cordova, Dixon, Del Paso Heights and one on Norwood Avenue. The latter two locations sit in the North Sacramento district he was elected to represent in November 2020.

In a recent filing to dismiss the lawsuit, Loloee’s attorneys called it a “politically-motivated campaign” against him. “The overreaching complaint includes claims barred by statutes of limitations and past settlement agreements, attempts to impose individual liability without pleading specific factual allegations, and seeks to require defendants simultaneously litigate the same claims in two forums,” according to the document filed on June 10.

“As a general rule, we do not comment on active litigation, but we do look forward to the matter being fully resolved in the court process,” a spokesperson for a public relations firm hired by Loloee told The Sacramento Bee.

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