Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $104,089 in back wages for 230 restaurant workers employed by Fayetteville-based This Is It! BBQ & Seafood at five of its Georgia locations. This action followed an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The department also fined the company $1,867 for allowing minors to work later than allowed by federal law.
"The restaurant industry is rife with wage violations and evasive business practices – such as paying employees 'off the books,' making illegal deductions from workers' wages and improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees as exempt from the act's overtime pay protections – all of which deny low-wage and vulnerable workers the pay guaranteed to them by law," said Oliver Peebles III, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta. "The Wage and Hour Division has stepped up its enforcement efforts to remedy systemic wage violations in high-risk industries in order to protect workers against such exploitation and ensure a level playing field for honest employers who play by the rules and pay fair compensation for all hours of their employees' work."
The investigation found that the company improperly classified employees as exempt from the FLSA and consequently failed to pay them time and one-half their regular rates for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek, as required under the act's overtime provisions. Investigators also found that tipped employees were not paid the minimum wage due to the company deducting uniform expenses and lunch breaks that employees did not take from their wages.
Additionally, workers younger than age 16 were allowed to work later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day and later than 7 p.m. at other times of the year, in violation of the FLSA's restrictions for young workers. Finally, the company failed to maintain accurate records of tips earned and hours worked, in violation of the act's record-keeping provisions.
This Is It! BBQ & Seafood has agreed to maintain future compliance with the FLSA by keeping accurate records and paying full and proper wages for all hours that employees work. As part of this commitment, the business has retained a payroll company to assist with correctly computing overtime compensation for tipped employees.
The investigation by the Wage and Hour Division's Atlanta District Office covered the company's restaurants in Fayetteville, Lithonia, East Point and two locations in Decatur. Employees who worked at any of these restaurants between March 2009 and February 2011 should contact the Wage and Hour Division's Atlanta office at 404-893-4600 to find out whether they are owed any back wages.
The FLSA requires that covered nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked over 40 per week. The FLSA permits an employer to take a tip credit toward its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees equal to the difference between the required cash wage, which must be at least $2.13, and the federal minimum wage. The age of a young worker determines how many hours in a day or week he or she may work and at what times. Employers are also 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 Atlanta office. 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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