WHD News Release: [09/24/2012]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Todd or Juan Rodriguez
Phone Number: (972) 850-4710 or x4709
Release Number: 12-1013-DAL
US Labor Department settles lawsuit against Hao Hao Inc. in Austin, Texas, recovering more than $70,000 in back wages for 10 employees
AUSTIN, Texas The U.S. Department of Labor has settled a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division against Hao Hao Inc., doing business as Hao Hao Restaurant, in Austin, and its owner Kevin Quach, for violations of the minimum wage, overtime and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company and Quach have agreed to pay more than $70,000 owed to 10 current and former kitchen staff and servers.
"The Labor Department holds employers accountable when they do not properly pay their workers and when they endanger the safety of minors by employing them to perform hazardous work," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "In this case, the employer took advantage of low-wage, vulnerable workers who were unaware of their rights provided by the FLSA. The department remains committed to protecting workers and law-abiding employers by ensuring that competitors who ignore their legal obligations do not gain a competitive advantage."
Investigators found that employees who worked up to 65 hours per week were paid fixed salaries that failed to meet the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and did not include overtime pay at time and one-half employees' regular rates for hours worked over 40 in a week. It was also determined that the company hired a 16-year-old to operate, disassemble and clean a power-driven meat slicer in violation of an FLSA child labor prohibition.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor has declared to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old workers or detrimental to their health or well-being. A list of hazardous occupations prohibited for minors is available on the Wage and Hour Division's website at http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/haznonag.asp. Hazardous Occupation Order No. 10 specifically prohibits workers under the age of 18 from operating power-driven meat-processing machinery. Additional information on child labor rules can be found at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov/index.htm.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Simply paying employees a salary does not exempt them from overtime protections. In general, "hours worked" includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its San Antonio office at 210-308-4515. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.