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DOL Orders Connecticut Restaurants to Pay $318K in Back Wages

July 9, 2012

In a previous Los Angeles, California wage and hour lawsuit blog, Vincent Howard discussed a recent U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) initiative designed to combat wage and hour violations in the Los Angeles restaurant industry, by ensuring that employers comply to the wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

As Mr. Howard often discusses, the DOL's WHD continues to be committed to combatting wage and hour violations in low-wage industries across the country, like the restaurant industry, that frequently take advantage of vulnerable workers' rights--many of whom are unaware of labor and employment laws, or too scared to defend these rights.

In a recent DOL wage and hour lawsuit development, a group of four Connecticut restaurants will pay fifty-three restaurant workers a total of $318,561 in back wages and interest, after the department found the owners and restaurants responsible for violating the overtime, minimum wage, child labor and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to the DOL, a WHD investigation found that three Athenian Diners in Waterbury, Milford, and Middletown, and the G.D. Diner of New Haven, violated federal FLSA labor laws by compensating kitchen employees with fixed weekly salaries for all hours worked--instead of providing overtime payment for hours worked beyond forty hours in the workweek.

The WHD found that the restaurants' cooks, preparation chefs, chefs, busboys and dishwashers were all working between fifty to sixty-five hours every week, without receiving their legally entitled right to overtime compensation. The restaurants also reportedly failed to provide employees with accurate records of their hours worked.

Under the FLSA, employees covered under the act must be compensated with the federal minimum wage ($7.25) for all hours worked in an eight-hour day, and forty-hour workweek. For any hours worked beyond forty, the covered employees must be compensated with overtime payment of time and one-half their normal rates of payment. The FLSA also requires that employers keep track of all employees' hours worked, wages earned, and other conditions of employment with accurate records.

The WHD also discovered that two 17-year-old dishwashers operated a meal slicer and a meat chopper--a violation of the federal child labor provisions of the FLSA, which require that no workers under the age of 18 are allowed by law to operate power-driven poultry and meat processing machines in specified non-agricultural occupations that the DOL finds to be particularly hazardous for 16 and 17-year-old workers.

According to the WHD, when employers fail to properly compensate their workers, they hurt honest businesses that pay their workers properly--giving the dishonest businesses an unfair advantage by ignoring the law and endangering young workers. The DOL stated that the department continues to use every possible enforcement tool available in order to recover employees' wages, and to ensure that employers who follow the law have access to an even playing field--and to bring employers who violate the FLSA to justice.

In Los Angeles County and Orange County, California, contact Howard Law's managing attorney Vincent Howard and our experienced Riverside labor and employment attorneys today, to discuss your California and federal wage and hour rights in the workplace.

Restaurants in New Haven, Middletown, Milford and Waterbury, Conn., agree to pay more than $318,000 in back wages to 53 workers, The U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, June 12, 2012

US Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division launches enforcement and education initiative focused on Los Angeles area restaurants, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Press Release, April 18, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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