Tennessee Restaurants To Pay Overtime Back Wages for Willful and Repeated FLSA Violations

November 11, 2011

In continuing its fight against wage theft and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has ordered two Tennessee restaurants to pay $39,232 in overtime back pay and minimum wages to twenty-three restaurant workers, after the restaurants were found to have willfully and repeatedly violated federal wage and hour laws. The DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) also assessed $4,301 in civil money penalties for these violations--as the company was previously investigated in 2008, and found to be in violation of the FLSA record-keeping requirements.

Our Irvine, California employment attorneys have been following the WHD Nashville District Office's announcement that the division is committed to ensuring that Tennessee employers who routinely employ low-wage workers, especially in the restaurant industry, are complying with FLSA laws--so that employees are protected from being denied overtime payments or minimum wage. The FLSA also protects employers who depend on the DOL to ensure that no companies receive unfair advantages by avoiding federal laws.

The wage and hour investigations reportedly revealed that the La Campina Mexican Grill Restaurants routinely and willfully failed to properly compensate and record compensation for employees for all hours worked during a workweek--violating the minimum wage, overtime payment and record-keeping provisions of the FLSA. The employees were reportedly paid a flat salary that did not incorporate the federal minimum wage, $7.25, for all working hours. The company also created records of employee hours that were inaccurate, in regard to the rates of payment and the wages that were actually paid.

Under the FLSA, employees must be paid at least $7.25 for every hour worked, and also receive one and one-half their normal pay rates when working over a 40-hour workweek, including bonuses, incentive compensation and commissions. Employers are also required under federal law to keep records of all accurate employee hours. For tipped employees, employers are only required to pay $2.13 per hour in direct wages, if that hourly wage with the added tips equals at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If the tips and wages combined do not total the federal minimum wage, the employer must pay the difference.

As our employment attorneys discussed in a recent Costa Mesa, California wage and hour blog post, according to a recent study by ROC-LA, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers of Los Angeles, 82% of restaurant employees working in the Los Angeles restaurant industry, earn less than a living wage. UCLA also reported in 2008 study that nearly 30% of Los Angeles workers in low-wage industries are paid less than the federal minimum wage, with around 80% of workers not receiving the overtime compensation. The study also found that nearly 64% of these workers also did not receive accurate records of compensation.

In Lake Forest, Laguna Woods, and Laguna Niguel, California, contact our labor and employment lawyer team at Howard Law, PC today, for a free discussion about your wage and hour issue.

Tennessee restaurant company to pay back wages, penalties for willful and repeated violations following US Labor Department investigation, U.S. Department of Labor Press Release, October 31, 2011

Related Web Resources:

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

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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Hollywood Actors Sued by Restaurant Employees for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 22, 2011

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Taqueria Restaurant to Pay Workers Nearly $250K in Overtime Back Pay and Minimum Wages, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 15, 2011

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Mexican Restaurants To Pay Over $1M in Back Wages and Overtime, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 1, 2011

DOL Wage and Hour Division Audits for Low Wage Industry Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2010

New Study Reveals More Abuse of Low-wage Workers in Los Angeles, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 11, 2010

Financial Discrimination for Low-wage Workers in Los Angeles, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 8, 2009