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Boston jeweler pays back wages after US inquiry

Historic Shreve’s agrees to $15,000 in compensation

Shreve, Crump & Low moved from Boylston Street to a less expensive shop on Newbury Street this summer.

David l. Ryan/Globe Staff

Shreve, Crump & Low moved from Boylston Street to a less expensive shop on Newbury Street this summer.

Shreve, Crump & Low has agreed to pay 12 employees about $15,000 in back wages following a federal investigation into the Boston jeweler’s pay practices.

The Department of Labor launched an inquiry several months ago into the historic business after current and former workers accused Shreve’s of failing to pay overtime and reneging on promised commissions.

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“Shreve’s has settled all outstanding issues with the Department of Labor,” said David Walker, who bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2006. “This settlement had no fines or penalties attached to it. We did, as part of the settlement, agree to pay approximately $15,000 in wage discrepancies over a two-year period.”

Paul Carroll, who oversaw security at Shreve’s until last November, said he expects to receive about $4,200 for unpaid overtime. Carroll said he was misclassified as a manager and not given additional compensation when he worked more than 40 hours per week, as required by law.

Walker has attempted to revitalize the storied brand, which has faced difficult times in recent years. The company traces its roots to a 1796 shop across from Paul Revere’s silversmith store. Shreve’s was hurt by a decline in luxury spending during the recession, and last year it parted ways with a key investor. Shreve’s, which had almost 100 employees in 2005, is now much smaller, with about 24 workers in its Boston store.

Several current and former employees interviewed by the Globe have said they had to accept reductions in wages and benefits, including the elimination of disability insurance and a week of paid vacation, along with reduced commission and no overtime.

“I am satisfied with the federal wage and hour’s investigation finding in favor of the present and former employees that were denied earned pay that was due them,” Carroll wrote in an e-mail. “All these employees, many of them long-time, loyal and hardworking chose to stay on in the midst of a 10 percent pay cut and other health benefit cuts because they believed what Shreve, Crump & Low meant to the fabric of Boston. It was a shame what happened to these employees.”

The Labor Department’s scrutiny came in the middle of Shreve’s move this summer to Newbury Street. The store is smaller and more affordable than the former Boylston Street site, which underwent multimillion-dollar renovations over the last decade.

Walker said he wants to “continue to provide the people of Boston and global travelers with a beautiful and pleasant atmosphere to shop and to work with fine jewelry, watches, and giftware, as we have for over 200 years.”

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jennabelson.
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