Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
BOSTON -- First Atlas Lions LLC, doing business as Tangierino Restaurant, and Tangierino Lounge Inc., doing business as Koullshi Lounge, have paid a total of $77,143 in back wages and liquidated damages to 22 low wage and vulnerable workers after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division uncovered violations of the overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The restaurant and lounge located at 83 Main St. in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood also paid $2,000 in civil money penalties due to the willful and repeat nature of the FLSA violations.
The majority of the FLSA violations resulted from the employer paying straight time wages to kitchen employees for all hours worked, rather than the required overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Investigators found that employees, who worked an average of 45 to 60 hours per week, were issued two paychecks, and the employer recorded these work hours on two separate payroll systems in an attempt to conceal and avoid payment of the legally required overtime premium. Management also instructed the workers to mislead Wage and Hour Division investigators about the overtime hours worked and to conceal the second payroll system from the investigators.
“This is not the way to do business. Employers cannot avoid paying legally required overtime with sleight-of-hand tricks, such as paying with two separate checks and hiding overtime hours,” said George A. Rioux, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Boston. “We are sending a strong message to the restaurant industry that this type of behavior must change. Our investigations are thorough and, when violations such as these are disclosed, we pursue not just the back wages due, but additional liquidated damages for workers who have been denied their hard-earned compensation. Employers who commit willful or repeat violations of the FLSA will also be subject to civil money penalties.”
The businesses have paid the back wages and damages in full to the Wage and Hour Division, which is distributing them to the workers. The businesses have also agreed to properly compensate employees and keep accurate records in the future.
The investigations were conducted under the division’s multiyear enforcement initiative focused on the restaurant industry in Massachusetts, where widespread noncompliance with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions has been found. The restaurant industry employs some of our country’s lowest-paid workers, who are vulnerable to disparate treatment and labor violations. In addition to the initiative in Massachusetts, the Wage and Hour Division has other ongoing enforcement initiatives throughout the United States to identify and remedy violations that are common in the restaurant industry.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked over 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 FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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