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Los Angeles Thai Restaurants Sued by DOL for Overtime Violations, Retaliation

April 11, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has reportedly filed a lawsuit against two Thai restaurants and their parent company in Los Angeles, California, for violating provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, (FLSA)--by failing to pay proper overtime compensation to employees, retaliating against employees through wrongful termination for speaking up for their FLSA rights, and failing to maintain proper wage records.

According to a DOL press release that Vincent Howard has been following, after a thorough DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation, two Chan Dara restaurants based in Los Angeles were found to owe a total of $104,807 in overtime back wages--$56,910 owed to 13 employees from the West Los Angeles location, and $47,897 due to 15 employees at the other East Los Angeles location.

The investigation revealed that from September of 2009 to September of 2011, the restaurants reportedly paid their employees straight time for all hours worked, and failed to pay a premium overtime rate for hours worked beyond forty in a workweek--a violation of the FLSA. The workers claimed to frequently work 10 to 16 hours per day in double work shifts, with no overtime payment. The employer also admitted to keeping two versions of the payroll records--one with the accurate record-keeping information, and the other with misleading information.

The restaurants were also found to have retaliated against employees who stood up for their FLSA rights by wrongfully terminating their employment.

According to Kimchi Bui, the WHD's Los Angeles director, the department will demand restitution, seek monetary penalties, and take legal action in order to protect these vulnerable restaurant workers. The lawsuit asks the court to order the defendants to pay the entire amount of back wages due to the employees, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages. The lawsuit also asks that the affected employees are reinstated to their former jobs, and prohibits the employers from future FLSA violations.

The WHD division also assessed $10,000 in civil penalties against the two restaurants for willfully violating the requirements of the FLSA--which the defendants have reportedly already paid.

As Vincent Howard has discussed previously in a Santa Ana wage and hour law blog, under the FLSA, covered employees are required to be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half their regular rates in overtime payment, for each hour worked beyond forty in a week of work. Employers are also required under the FLSA to keep employment records that accurately reflect employees' hours, wages and other employment conditions. Retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under federal law is prohibited under the FLSA.

In Corona, Costa Mesa, and Carson, California, contact Howard Law's labor and employment law team today headed by managing attorney Vincent Howard. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-872-5925, to discuss your wage and hour issue.

US Department of Labor sues 2 Los Angeles Thai restaurants for failing to pay overtime, retaliating against employees for exercising legal rights, The U.S. Department of Labor, April 10, 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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