Shaneeva Yassin, Web Journalist & Producer
MIAMI (CBS4)- The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the department is continuing its Fair Labor Standards Act initiative in Florida focused on restaurants that may be underpaying its workers and failing to properly pay them when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
According to the department’s Wage and Hour Division, unlawful pay practices include requiring employees to work exclusively for tips, without regard to minimum wage standards; making illegal deductions from workers’ wages for walk-outs, breakages and cash register shortages; and incorrectly calculating overtime according to the $2.13 per hour base rate before tips, instead of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Under the department’s initiative, Sushi Alive, a Tampa-based sushi restaurant, has agreed to pay $54,407 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to 14 restaurant employees.
“Many restaurants in the area continue to violate basic wage laws, resulting in low-wage workers being deprived of their hard-earned pay,” said James Schmidt, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Tampa. “This case resulted in Sushi Alive paying the back wages and promising to comply with the FLSA in the future. It is an example of the Labor Department’s commitment to protecting vulnerable workers against exploitation and ensuring that law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage.”
In addition, 140 Darden Restaurants Inc.’s Olive Garden restaurants in Mesquite, Texas agreed to pay $25,570 in back wages. One hundred and forty current and former servers were not properly paid as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company also has been assessed $30,800 in civil money penalties to be paid to the government, the department said.
In addition to paying the full amount of back wages, Darden Restaurants, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., has agreed to maintain future compliance with the law.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.
There were other cases reported, including the Bluegrass Hospitality Group LLC in Kentucky, Monte Alban Mexican Restaurant in North Carolina and
Bluegrass Hospitality Group LLC was required to pay back $114,756 on back wages to 43 employees.
Monte Alban Mexican Restaurant is paying $245,500 in back wages to 12 employees after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the business failed to pay them minimum wage and overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Significant child labor violations – such as allowing minors to operate hazardous equipment including dough mixers and meat slicers – also persist in the restaurant industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to the department, the initiative was created after the division found significant and systemic violations of the minimum wage, overtime and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act in Florida.
The department said employers who may fail to follow federal labor laws will face potential penalties.
Workers or employers with concerns or questions may call the Wage and Hour Division toll-free helpline at 866-4-US-WAGE (487-9243).
For more information on the division, visit their Website.