After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division, 28 Huddle House restaurants in Georgia, Missouri, and West Virginia were cited for violating federal labor laws. According to Business Week, these restaurants were all found to be in violation of multiple requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Violations reportedly include breaking child labor laws, not properly paying overtime, and failing to compensate employees at least the federal minimum wage per hour. In addition to ensuring compliance among the restaurants in its brand, Huddle House Inc. will pay $48,317 for child labor and repeat violations, as well as back wages to 128 employees totaling $60,500.
Additionally, the Department of Labor said that the investigations “began as part of a multiyear enforcement initiative focused on the restaurant industry in Georgia, where widespread violations with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and child labor provisions had been found.” Employees were reportedly found to have not been paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour for a variety of reasons. These include situations where some employees were only paid in tips, those paid an hourly rate plus tips still did not reach the minimum, some workers were forced to give tips to non-tipped employees, some employees were forced to pay the employer for breaking things, and other salaried non-exempt employees still did not make the minimum wage per hour, according to reports.
Reportedly, Huddle House’s overtime violations took the form of salaried non-exempt employees not receiving any overtime, employees being paid overtime on an 80-hour over two week scale instead of the required 40 hour over one week scale, and tipped employees not being compensated overtime at the right rate. The restaurants’ reported child labor violations were centered on the employment of a 15-year-old girl that was allowed to work more than federal law stipulates. The FLSA allows minors only to work a maximum of 18 hours in a week and 3 hours on a school day.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets federal requirements for employee compensation, and states have the opportunity to go above and beyond these labor laws. If an employer is not paying an employee properly as stipulated by federal and state laws, that employee may be entitled to back pay for unpaid overtime or underpayment. If you or a loved one believes that you are not being properly compensated by your employer, contact an experienced overtime attorney to make sure your rights are sufficiently protected.