The U.S. Department of Labor recently concluded an investigation in which it determined that a technological services company had misclassified 57 of its employees, which resulted in these 57 employees not receiving time-and-a-half overtime wages that they should have earned for work that they completed over forty hours in a workweek. The Department of Labor's investigation found that the company wrongly classified these 57 employees as "administratively exempt" employees. It also found that the company did not keep daily time records for the employees and that the company had not included a non-discretionary yearly bonus when calculating their overtime pay rates. Employees should know that many salaried employees are still owed time-and-a-half overtime wages, and it is illegal for companies to misclassify its employees as salary exempt. See https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20220512
A federal judge has ordered that Sweet Lemon Inc., which does business as Sweet Lemons Thai Restaurant, pay unpaid overtime and liquidated damages to 13 of its employees because it illegally denied employees of overtime wages and tips to which the employees were entitled. The Department of Labor found these violations after it investigated the company. The Department of Labor also found that the company retaliated against employees after the DOL’s investigation started by interrogating them about whether they had talked to DOL investigators. This alleged conduct is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay overtime non-exempt employees time-and-a-half overtime wages for their hours worked over 40 in a workweek and prohibits discrimination for complaints about unpaid overtime or cooperation in a Department of Labor investigation. See Walsh v. Sweet Lemon Inc., et al., No. 20-12217-RGS.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently recovered significant unpaid overtime wages from a restaurant (MTLE LLC) that had illegally denied these wages to its employees. The DOL found that the company, which operated as Mezcal Mexican Grill, did not pay time-and-a-half overtime wages to its employees who worked over 40 hours in a workweek, instead paying them only straight time wages regardless of how many hours they worked in a workweek. The restaurant had acquired many of these employees through a staffing agency, and the DOL found that both companies were joint employers over the employees at issue. The use of a staffing agency does not absolve a company of its responsibility to ensure that employees are properly paid for their overtime hours. Any company that controls and manages the work of an employee is also responsible for making sure that they are paid all wages to which they are entitled. See: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20220204-0
A federal court issued a judgment against a medical staffing agency, requiring the company to pay unpaid wages and liquidated damages to over one thousand nursing aides, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses. The Court found that the employees had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees. This misclassification cost the employees millions of dollars in overtime wages that the employees were entitled to by paying straight time wages instead of time-and-a-half overtime wages for their hours worked over forty in a workweek. This alleged conduct is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that non-exempt employees receive time-and-a-half overtime wages (regardless of whether they have been misclassified as independent contractors). See U.S. DOL v. Medical Staffing of America, LLC, No. 2:18cv226 (E.D. Va.).
The Department of Labor has recovered back pay wages for 80 employees who were illegally denied overtime payment by a nonprofit company, Keystone Adolescent Center. This company ran five facilities with the goal of helping at-risk youth. The Department of Labor investigated the company and found that 80 employees there were obligated to attend meetings and trainings outside of their normal working hours. Despite this, Keystone did not pay these employees any wages whatsoever for this time. Instead, Keystone only paid the employees to attend these meetings if the meetings happened to occur during the employees’ regularly scheduled shifts. This conduct is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers are obligated to pay their employees for mandatory work meetings, even when such meetings happen outside of normal shift times. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20210405-1
The U.S. Department of Labor recently found that a restaurant group owed back wages to eleven of its employees because the employer had illegally denied these employees time-and-a-half overtime wages. The DOL found that the company had misclassified its cooks and dishwashers as exempt from overtime wages. Even though the cooks and dishwashers were paid a salary, none of the exceptions to overtime were applicable. Therefore, the company was required to pay them time-and-a-half wages for all time worked more than 40 hours in a week. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20210310
The U.S. Department of Labor recently succeeded in recovering over $50,000 of back wages for more than 50 employees who worked for Sprouts Farmers Market, which the DOL claimed did not record nor pay employees for work that they performed off of the clock, before and after scheduled shift times, and during meal breaks. Employers are obligated to pay their employees for all hours that the employees work, even if such hours are off of the clock or before or after their scheduled shift. The failure to record or pay for these hours resulted in the employer violating overtime laws pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under that law, almost all hourly employees are entitled to time-and-a-half overtime wages for every hour that they work over forty in a workweek.
A collection of residential care facilities have been ordered to pay a significant penalty by the U.S. Department of Labor, after the DOL found that the owners of the facilities had violated both minimum wage and overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act. An investigation found that owners were paying certain employees flat rates per day, regardless of the number of hours that the employees worked. By doing this, the company tried to eschew overtime laws that require time-and-a-half overtime wages to employees who worked over forty hours in a workweek. In addition, the company also did not pay employees for certain hours that they worked, such as hours for required training. The laundry list of violations continued with a failure to display the FLSA poster and a failure to keep accurate records for weekly hours worked and paid. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits all of these violations. Non-exempt employees must be paid time-and-a-half overtime wages when they work over forty hours in a workweek, even when the employees are paid a “flat rate.” An employer in Ohio who violates overtime laws may be required to pay all unpaid wages, an equal amount of liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
Employees Should Get Paid for Training Time
A recent investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has resulted in payment of $339,418 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages after a consent judgment. The investigation determined that the restaurant paid certain of its non-tipped employees at a “training” rate of $3.75 per hour until the employees proved to be efficient on the job. The investigation also found that the company did not pay its employees time and a half overtime wages for hours that the employees worked over forty in a workweek. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employers pay employees at least minimum wages, even when the work performed is for “training.” Additionally the FLSA mandates payment of time and a half overtime wages for hourly employees for their hours worked over forty in a workweek. See Acosta v. Freddie’s Inc., No. 1:17-cv-04347 (N.D. Ill.).
A national food distribution company recently agreed to pay over $136,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 47 employees after the Department of Labor investigated and found overtime and other Fair Labor Standards Act violations. The DOL determined that the company misclassified employees as independent contractors and then did not pay the employees at least minimum wages and time and a half overtime wages. The company paid employees on a piece rate basis and did not make payments based on the hours worked by the employees. The DOL found that some employees were not compensated at least minimum wages based on the hours that they had actually worked, and also that the company paid the same piece rate basis for overtime hours worked by employees. Employers are obligated to pay employees at least minimum wages for their hours worked, and many employees are owed time and a half overtime wages for their hours worked over forty in a workweek, sometimes even when the employee is paid on a salary basis.
The Department of Labor recently settled with a restaurant after the DOL found that the company had failed to pay its employees all applicable overtime and minimum wages by not paying minimum wage to dishwashers and to a server who was performing work for the restaurant while receiving compensation only in the form of tips. The DOL further found that cooks, dishwashers, and servers did not receive appropriate time and a half overtime payments for their hours worked over forty in a workweek. Even tipped hourly employees must received the tip server minimum wage directly from the employer, regardless of how much that employee makes in tips. Violations of these requirements can results in two or three times the amount of unpaid wages, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. See Acosta v. Café Misono Inc., No. 17-cv-11993 (D. Mass.).
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-2 recently to reject Tyson Foods challenge of a class action award for certain of its employees. The lower court had entered judgment of nearly $5.8 million for the class action lawsuit that arose because of alleged underpayment of wages. Over 3,000 workers sued Tyson to be compensated with overtime pay for time that they had spent putting on and removing protective clothing before using sharp knives used for their job. Tyson did not log these employees hours, so plaintiffs’ attorneys instead used statistics experts to estimate the amount of overtime wages that Tyson owed to the plaintiffs by analyzing video footage of the employees putting on and removing the protective gear. Tyson Foods argued that the class should not have been allowed because it relied on representative evidence and statistics that assumed all class members were identical to the average in order to calculate liability and damages. The Supreme Court rejected Tyson’s argument. The Court explained: “[i]n many cases, a representative sample is ‘the only practicable means to collect and present relevant data’ establishing a defendant’s liability.” See Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, 2016 U.S. LEXIS 2134 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016).
Two sushi restaurants have agreed to pay over $460,000 in back wages and liquidated damages, and over $150,000 in additional civil penalties for minimum wage, overtime, and record keeping violations. The Department of Labor claimed that sushi chefs and other employees at the restaurants worked up to 90 hours a week but were not paid for all hours that they worked, were shorted overtime pay, and had pay deducted for taking short breaks. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay covered, nonexempt workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, and time and a half overtime wages for all hours worked over forty in a week. See http://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20160125-0
Houlihan’s Sued For Illegal Tip Pool
The U.S. Department of Labor recently filed a lawsuit against several Houlihan’s Restaurants franchises. The complaint alleges that the company violated the minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of about 1,430 current and former Houlihan’s employees and seeks back wages, tips, and liquidated damages. The complaint alleges that the Defendants required the employees to pay tips into a tip pool, which was then used to pay employees for tasks completing custodial and kitchen work, and that Houlihan’s regularly kept part of the employees’ tips, creating an illegal tip pool. The complaint also alleges that employees would work off of the clock and that the employees were not compensated overtime when they split their work at more than one Houlihan’s location. Tip pools may only include those employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, and employers may not share in the tip pool themselves. See Perez v. A.C.E. Restaurant Group Inc., No. 1:15-cv-07149 (D.N.J. 2015).
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found that Wei’s Hibachi Buffet, LLC violated the overtime, minimum wage, and record keeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Hibachi Buffet did not pay servers a base hourly wage but instead forced them to work only for tips and room and board. Hibachi Buffet also failed to pay kitchen employees time and a half overtime wages for hours worked over 40 in a work week, as is required under the FLSA. The department also found that Hibachi Buffet did not maintain records for all hours that its employees worked. Hibachi Buffet has agreed to comply with the standards of the FLSA and to pay almost $100,000 in back wages and liquidated damages among twelve employees. See www.dol.gov/opa/ media/press/whd/WHD20151802.htm