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Granger owner of Mega Liquor chain ordered to pay workers back for wage theft

Mega Liqours & Smoke location at the intersection of Logan and Jefferson in South Bend on March 7, 2024.
Marek Mazurek, WVPE
Mega Liqours & Smoke location at the intersection of Logan and Jefferson in South Bend on March 7, 2024.

A federal judge last week granted a preliminary injunction against local liquor store owner Bhola Singh, who is now required to pay back the rest of the money he owes to workers from back wages.

Singh, a Granger resident, is the owner of dozens of Mega Liquor & Smoke stores in Indiana and Michigan. The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against him claiming he violated minimum wage and overtime laws at his stores from 2020 to 2022. The lawsuit came after a multi-year investigation.

Singh settled that suit in the fall and agreed to pay over $350,000 to 156 former and current employees. But regulators alleged Singh has been intimidating workers into signing forms saying they’ve been paid back when they haven’t been and threatening to fire workers if they spoke with federal investigators.

Those alleged actions caused the labor department to file a follow up lawsuit seeking an injunction against Singh.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty granted the injunction, which requires Singh to pay the 66 or so affected employees the more than $170,000 he still owes. The ruling also requires Singh publish written and video statements informing employees of their right to talk to federal investigators.

Singh is also barred from firing or reducing hours of any worker for six months without notifying the department of labor why in writing.

An attorney representing Singh did not respond to a message from WVPE seeking comment.

Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri is in charge of the case for the federal government. She issued a written statement on the filing in February.

“The Department of Labor is asking the court to hold Bhola Singh accountable for his illegal tactics to prevent employees from receiving the back wages and damages they are owed and that he agreed to pay. Retaliation against workers is a clear violation of the law,” Heri said in a statement. “We will use every available legal resource to protect workers and end retaliatory practices by employers, including seeking punitive damages for those harassed.”

Per state business records, Singh owns 61 Mega Liquor stores in Michigan and Indiana in addition to multiple City Wide Liquor locations and Frank’s Place bar near downtown South Bend.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.