Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Mandarin House restaurant on Merchant Drive in Knoxville has agreed to pay $85,290 in back wages to nine employees plus pay a fine after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the business was illegally depriving workers of minimum wage and overtime pay to which they are entitled under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
“The Labor Department has made a concerted effort to protect vulnerable low-wage workers who may not know their legal rights under federal labor laws,” said Oliver Peebles III, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. “Businesses have an obligation to pay their workers fairly, and it is our job to see that companies meet their obligation. We have seen continued problems in this industry and we will not hesitate to take the enforcement measures necessary to hold buffet-style restaurants such as Mandarin House Merchant Drive accountable for paying employees their hard-earned wages.”
Wage and Hour Division investigators found that cooks had worked an average of 66 hours per week for salaries that yielded wages as low as $3.50 per hour and that no overtime was paid for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek. One cook earned a salary to cover minimum wage but no overtime, several waitresses did not receive proper cash wages, and the restaurant failed to keep accurate records of hours worked.
Because this is the second investigation in which this employer was found in violation of the FLSA, the department is also fining the restaurant $1,540 and requiring a signed settlement agreement to ensure future compliance with federal labor laws.
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 of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are required to keep accurate records of all hours worked by covered employees.
For more information about this investigation, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Nashville District Office at 615-781-5343. For more information about the FLSA, call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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