After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) arm of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), This Is It! BBQ and Seafood restaurant has been fined around $1,900 and ordered to pay $104,089 in back pay to 230 workers in five locations in Georgia. According to CBS Atlanta, the fine levied was a result of the company’s practice of allowing minors to work later than allowed by federal labor laws, and the back pay was awarded to employees that the restaurant failed to pay extra for working overtime and those that worked for tips but were not paid minimum wage. The five locations that allegedly committed violations were two in Decatur and one in Fayetteville, Lithonia and East Point.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal legislation that establishes standards for overtime pay, minimum wage, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards. The FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hr) and overtime pay of one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 in a single workweek. For nonagricultural operations, it restricts the hours that children under the age of 16 can work and forbids the employment of children under the age of 18 in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 during school hours and in some jobs deemed too dangerous. Employers must also display an informational poster outlining the requirements of the FLSA, as well as keep detailed employee time and pay records.
As stated in the news article by Oliver Peebles III, a regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta, "The restaurant industry is rife with wage violations and evasive business practices – such as paying employees ‘off the books,' making illegal deductions from workers' wages and improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees as exempt from the act's overtime pay protections – all of which deny low-wage and vulnerable workers the pay guaranteed to them by law." With confusing labor laws and alleged widespread violations, many employees may question whether they are receiving the compensation they are entitled to by federal law. If you believe that your employer may be violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or any state employment laws, contact a dedicated overtime attorney to see if you are entitled to receive back wages for under-payment or unpaid overtime.