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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 08-1880-NEW / BOS 2009-024

Date: 

January 28, 2009

Contact: 

John M. Chavez

Phone: 

617-565-2075

Former owner of Queens, N.Y., restaurant agrees to pay more than $85,000 in back wages, damages and penalties to settle U.S. Labor Department lawsuit


NEW YORK -- Jorge Morales, former owner of a restaurant in Astoria, Queens, has agreed to pay seven of his employees a total of $55,360 in overtime back wages and $27,680 in liquidated damages to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Morales must also pay a $2,156 civil money penalty. Morales failed to comply fully with an earlier administrative settlement agreement to pay the back wages.

The Labor Departmentís suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York following an investigation by the departmentís Wage and Hour Division that disclosed violations of the FLSAís overtime provisions at the restaurantís 3225 Steinway St. location.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employeesí wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained, and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.

ďEmployers of low-wage workers should be well aware of their obligation under the law to pay their employees properly for all hours worked, and that the Labor Department will seek damages and penalties and require a judgment to be filed in federal court if necessary to bring them into compliance with the law,Ē said Philip Jacobson, director of the Wage and Hour Divisionís district office in New York City.

A consent judgment signed by Judge Carol Bagley Amon prohibits the defendant from future violations of the FLSAís minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and anti-retaliation provisions. It orders Morales to pay the back wages covering the period from Oct. 13, 2002, to Oct. 3, 2004, as well as the liquidated damages and civil money penalty. The defendant agreed to entry of the judgment while neither admitting nor denying the allegations contained in the departmentís suit.

If the defendant fails to make the payments, the court will appoint a receiver with power to seize and liquidate his assets to satisfy the order. He is also ordered to advise employees, in Spanish and English, of their rights under the FLSA, in particular their right to engage in protected activity without fear of retaliation. Finally, the defendant must post official posters explaining employee rights under the FLSA where all employees may view them.

The Labor Departmentís Wage and Hour Division office in Manhattan investigated this case, and the suit was filed by the departmentís Regional Solicitorís Office in Manhattan. For more information about the requirements of the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division at 212-264-8185 or call the Department of Laborís toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at www.wagehour.dol.gov.

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Chao v. Jorge Morales, Individually; Civil Action Number: 08-CV-5017

The Labor Departmentís Wage and Hour Division office in Manhattan investigated this case, and the suit was filed by the departmentís Regional Solicitorís Office in New York City. For more information about the requirements of the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division office in Manhattan at 212-264-8185 or call the Department of Laborís toll-free helpline at 866-US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at www.wagehour.dol.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing Americaís employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.