An upscale market in Cape Elizabeth has paid more than $51,000 to resolve federal labor law violations, including allowing minors to perform hazardous tasks and permitting managers to participate in the employee tip pool.

The U.S. Department of Labor said C Salt Gourmet Market LLC paid back wages and damages for 86 employees after denying some workers their full wages and allowing teenagers to work excessive hours and handle dangerous equipment. A department spokesman said the violations occurred between July 2020 and July 2022, and the market cooperated with the investigation when it began last summer.

C Salt Gourmet Market in Cape Elizabeth. Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Investigators found that C Salt improperly included managers in the employee tip pool and did not pay two workers proper overtime. An employer, manager or supervisor may not keep tips for employees, including through tip pools.

The department found the market also permitted 10 workers, ages 14 and 15, to work more hours than allowed by federal limits. In other violations, three of the minor workers were allowed to use an oven, and another used a deep-fat fryer that did not include an automated fry-basket handler, a safety device. Three minors also cleaned and operated a power-driven meat slicer, which is prohibited for use by workers under age 18.

The C Salt owners, Mike and Stephanie Concannon, said in post on the market’s Facebook page that they have “enacted changes” in response to the federal investigation.

“C Salt has always prided itself on being a family-owned business that treats its employees and customers with respect,” the post says. “This past year, C Salt was alerted by the Department of Labor to violations of employment regulations of which we were unaware. As soon as C Salt was alerted to these issues, we did a comprehensive examination of our practices and enacted changes to follow the ever-changing employment laws, as well as working with the Department of Labor to ensure that all employees received every dollar to which they were entitled.


“Our efforts in this regard underscored our commitment to being an employer of choice in Cape Elizabeth, and we will continue to look for ways to make our employee experience beneficial, while ensuring that our customers are provided the best food and service in the area.”

In an interview, Mike Concannon said the market started a tip pool in 2020 during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He did not realize at the time that a rule change in 2019 prohibited two managers from being included. He described the federal investigation as “a learning experience.”

“This was a tough lesson to find out about,” he said. “We didn’t know we were doing anything wrong. … It was kind of a shock to us, but it was a law we should have known.”

He said the market has corrected the violations.

“The fine was huge for a small business in the food industry,” said Concannon. “It’s hard to take.”

The department said C Salt paid $36,106 in back wages and damages to the current and former affected employees. The market also paid $14,928 in civil penalties to the department for youth employment violations.

“The types of wage and youth employment violations found in this investigation are too common in the food services industry, yet they are preventable,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney. “We urge northern New England employers and workers alike to review the Wage and Hour Division’s extensive online compliance assistance toolkits and to contact our office with any questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s wage and child labor protections.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.