Roundup: Wal-Mart asst. manager sues for overtime; West Penn Power warns of scam; more
Ex-Wal-Mart assistant manager wants overtime
An Overbrook man claimed in a proposed federal class-action lawsuit that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. knowingly violated Pennsylvania's wage laws by classifying its assistant managers as being exempt from overtime laws. James Jenko claimed in the lawsuit that he worked for Wal-Mart from 1998 until July. An assistant manager since 2003, he worked 50 to 55 hours per week but was paid no overtime despite the fact he didn't perform any duties that would have exempted him from state overtime laws, the lawsuit said. He is suing on behalf of himself and other current and former assistant managers to recover unpaid overtime, interest and penalties. The lawsuit was filed in federal court because Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark. The company has about 140 stores with eight to 10 assistant managers each, and more than 1,000 people have worked as assistant managers in Pennsylvania in the last three years, the lawsuit says. A company spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.
Building planned at Unity airpark
EFR Limited Partnership purchased 5.8 acres in the Westmoreland County Airpark in Unity. The development company that builds and manages non-residential buildings is based in Latrobe and is planning a 75,000-square-foot multi-tenant, flex-warehouse at the airpark. Construction should begin in the spring and finish in late fall, according to an announcement from the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. No price was given. EFR has been in the construction industry for 70 years and has built and marketed more than 3 million square feet of industrial space.
Sprint posts 4Q loss; revenue up
Sprint Nextel Corp., the country's third-largest wireless carrier, on Thursday said it lost $1.3 billion in its fourth quarter, about the same as a year ago, as it revamped its network for a comeback versus bigger competitors. The company's focus, and that of its investors, is on its long-term turnaround efforts rather than on short-term results. Sprint is selling 70 percent of itself to Japanese carrier Softbank Corp. for $20 billion. That deal is expected to close this summer, and provide long-ailing Sprint with a much-needed infusion of capital. The Overland Park, Kan., company lost 44 cents per share in the October to December period versus 43 cents per share in the previous year. Revenue was $9 billion, up 3.2 percent from $8.7 billion a year ago.
West Penn Power warns of scam
West Penn Power's and Penn Power's parent company warned utility customers about a scam in which a phone caller poses as an electric company employee and threatens to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made using a prepaid debit card such as a Green Dot card. FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron said Thursday it doesn't officially sanction Green Dot cards for paying bills, and anyone who gets a call of this type is being scammed and should report the crime to authorities.
Consumer debt rises in December
Americans stepped up borrowing in December to buy cars and attend school. But they cut back sharply on credit card use, continuing a trend that could hold back growth this year. Consumer borrowing rose $14.6 billion in December from November to a total of $2.78 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That's the highest level on record. The increase was driven entirely by gains in student and auto loans. But credit card debt fell $3.6 billion. Americans have been relying less on credit cards since the Great Recession. Total credit card debt has fallen about 17 percent since the July 2008.
Other business news
• Consol Energy Inc. said Thursday it added 954 billion cubic feet equivalent of natural gas proved reserves from its drilling activities in 2012. The Cecil-based company estimated it had $440.7 million in drilling and completion costs during the year that were attributable to extensions and discoveries. Consol's total proved reserves as of Dec. 31 were a record 3.993 trillion cubic feet equivalent and 15 percent higher than in late 2011.
• Dr. Paul L. Kornblith, medical adviser to the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, was named the 2013 recipient of the Pennsylvania Bio Schoemaker Award, which recognizes leadership in biosciences. Kornblith will be honored March 13 at a celebration in Philadelphia. The greenhouse organization provides capital, plus business formation and growth programs to life sciences enterprises in the region.
— Staff and wire reports