The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed suit against a Niles, Ohio restaurant for alleged widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL is seeking back pay and damages for 33 current and former employees of McMenamy's Restaurant and Banquet Center. According to WKBN, the suit alleges that McMenamy’s regularly failed to pay the federal minimum wage and overtime. The DOL alleges that the restaurant also required workers as young as 14 to work beyond the number of hours allowed by law.
McMenamy’s Restaurant, which is located at 325 Youngstown Warren Road, Niles, was also the subject of a 2003 DOL investigation which uncovered similar FLSA violations. This investigation covered the time period between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2011. The DOL’s investigation found that the restaurant did not pay $3,207 in overtime and minimum wage to 33 employees. Civil penalties purportedly amount to around $23,000. In addition to minimum wage and overtime violations, the restaurant also violated child labor laws when it forced 14 and 15-year-olds to work as late as 11pm, past the permitted hours for children. These penalties amount to over $3,000.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is federal legislation that sets minimum standards for overtime pay, minimum wage, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards. The FLSA requires employers to pay one-and-one-half times the standard rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 hours in a single workweek and to pay every non-exempt employee at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In addition, for nonagricultural employment the FLSA restricts the hours that children under the age of 16 can work and the types of jobs deemed too dangerous for those under the age of 18 to work. For agricultural operations, the FLSA prohibits the employment of children under 16 while school is in session. Furthermore, employers must keep detailed records on work time and pay, as well as display an informational poster of FLSA guidelines in the workplace.
The restaurant industry is one of the principal violators of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Because restaurant workers are often vulnerable low-wage earners, the industry frequently improperly classifies workers as “exempt” to prevent them from receiving overtime, makes illegal subtractions from their earned wages, refuses to pay any overtime, incorrectly calculates time worked, and pays some employees off the books. These practices strip employees of both justly earned wages as well as their dignities as workers. If you believe that you may be being unfairly treated by your employer, contact a devoted overtime lawyer to see if you might be entitled to receive back wages for unpaid overtime or underpayment.