November 30, 2011 · 1 Comments
WESTBURY, N.Y. — (www.hospitalitybusinessnews.com) An ongoing enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found widespread noncompliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act among full-service restaurants on Long Island. Under the initiative, the division has completed 46 investigations of pizza and pasta establishments and recovered $2,341,507 in back wages for 578 employees. In addition, the division has assessed $202,315 in civil money penalties against employers for willful and repeated FLSA violations.
“This initiative reflects the Labor Department’s commitment to protecting our nation’s vulnerable workers by ensuring that employers meet their responsibilities under federal law,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The Wage and Hour Division will continue to monitor full-service restaurants and other industries in which unlawful pay practices are widespread in order to level the playing field for the many employers who abide by the law and properly pay their employees.”
The Wage and Hour Division is concerned about the prevalence of unlawful pay practices in the full-service restaurant industry, such as employers paying cash wages “off the books,” rather than maintaining legally required employment records; paying employees a fixed salary for all hours worked, without regard for the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements; and falsifying employees’ time and payroll records.
Investigators from the division’s Long Island District Office are inspecting restaurants throughout the jurisdiction to identify patterns of minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping violations, and to remind workers of their rights under the FLSA. These inspections include thorough reviews of payroll records as well as interviews with employees to assess employer compliance with all applicable labor standards. Other strategies include surveillance of employers who may be committing violations, using penalty assessments to increase the cost of noncompliance, and coordination with local agencies and criminal enforcement authorities to combat willful violations, such as falsification of records and tax filings.