Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Darden Restaurants Inc., doing business as Red Lobster in Lubbock, has agreed to pay $27,427 in back wages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that 109 current and former servers were not properly paid as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company also has been assessed $23,980 in civil money penalties to be paid to the government. Red Lobster in Lubbock is a full-service restaurant, employing approximately 82 workers.
“Workers deserve full and fair compensation for all hours of work, from the beginning to the end of their scheduled shifts,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “The penalty assessment in this case demonstrates that we will vigorously address bad practices in the restaurant industry with every available enforcement tool.”
Investigators from the division’s Albuquerque District Office determined that workers were allowed to clock in once customers were seated, instead of at the start of their scheduled work shifts as required under the FLSA. This practice resulted in shorter hours and compensation that fell below the federal minimum wage, violating the FLSA’s minimum wage and record-keeping provisions.
The civil money penalty is the second assessed to Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants recently. In March, a civil money penalty of $30,800 was assessed for FLSA violations at a Mesquite, Texas, Olive Garden restaurant owned by Darden Restaurants. The company has agreed to maintain future compliance with the law.
Restaurant employees are frequently underpaid and the Wage and Hour Division is conducting multiple strategic enforcement efforts around the country to combat FLSA violations in the industry. The same problems uncovered at the Red Lobster in Lubbock also were exposed during an investigation of the Olive Garden in Mesquite by the division’s Dallas District Office. In that case, in addition to the civil money penalty, 140 employees were found to be owed $25,570 in back pay for minimum wage violations.
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. Further, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
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 its Albuquerque office at 505-248-6100. Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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