Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WESTBURY, N.Y. -- A Medford, N.Y., restaurant and its owner will pay $60,535 in back wages and interest to 18 employees according to the terms of a contempt consent judgment obtained by the U.S. Department of Labor. Route 112 Restaurant Corp., doing business as Metropolis Diner, and its president, Andrew Manesis, also will pay $7,068 in civil money penalties and interest to the government.
In September 2010, following an investigation by the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, the defendants signed a consent judgment in which they agreed to pay a total of $43,971 to 16 employees who had not been paid properly for overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Division officials subsequently learned that the defendants not only continued to fail to pay employees the required overtime pay and keep the required payroll records after the settlement, but also made the employees for whom the wages were recovered sign documents that resulted in them having to return, or "kick back," some of those recovered wages.
"This employer showed complete disregard for its workers, the law and the court by ignoring the terms of the original judgment and having the employees kick back part of the monies they were entitled to in the first place," said Irv Miljoner, the division's district director for Long Island. "The violations identified here unfortunately mirror many of those commonly found in the restaurant industry, including not paying workers overtime for working extensive hours over 40 in a workweek, false or nonexistent payroll records, and 'off the books' cash payments. The seriousness of these violations is heightened in this case by the employer's additional willful practice of having part of the workers' wages improperly returned."
Under the judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip, the defendants will pay the back wages and interest in full to the Wage and Hour Division, which will distribute the wages to the workers. The defendants also will inform their employees, in English and in any other languages spoken by the employees, of their rights under the FLSA, the terms of the judgment and their right to engage in activities protected by the FLSA without fear of retaliation. The judgment also permanently prohibits the defendants from future violations of the FLSA's overtime and record-keeping provisions. Such violations could result in the department filing a contempt action against them in federal court.
"Our comprehensive restaurant initiative seeks to change this industry culture, to take the incentive to violate the law away from employers who would do so and push them into compliance," said Miljoner. "By applying the law equally across the board, we not only seek to assist vulnerable workers, but also level the playing field for those employers who obey the law in the first place."
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
The case was litigated for the department by its Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York. For more information about the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's Long Island office, located in Westbury, at 516-338-1890. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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