Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department sues Long Island restaurant and owner to recover back wages, damages for employees
Department searching for all affected employees
WESTBURY, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Codfish LLC doing business as Uncle Bacala’s, a full service restaurant located on Long Island in New York, and sole owner Peter Hewitson for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The department’s suit was filed following an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division, which found that the defendants denied employees their right to receive the minimum wage and overtime pay, and failed to follow proper recordkeeping requirements for all employees.
“Busboys, food runners and kitchen workers at this restaurant provided their employer with honest labor, and should have received at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay,” said Irv Miljoner, director of the Wage and Hour Division district office in Westbury, which oversaw the investigation. “The department’s suit not only puts other Long Island employers of low-wage workers on notice that the Labor Department will not hesitate to take legal action to enforce the law but should remind all employers of their legal responsibility to properly pay employees for every hour worked.”
The Wage and Hour Division investigated the pay practices of Uncle Bacala’s, located at 2370 Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park, N.Y., and determined that employees were owed a substantial amount of back pay for minimum wage and overtime violations dating back to at least Jan. 14, 2008. The defendants also were found to have violated the FLSA’s recordkeeping provisions by failing to record the total hours worked by employees, including overtime, and wages paid. According to payroll records, employees were paid for 40 or fewer hours by check at the appropriate wage and received approximately $100 in cash per week to compensate them for additional hours of work. However, based on the hours actually worked as determined by employee statements and schedules, employees received less than the amounts to which they were legally entitled.
The case was referred to the Labor Department’s regional solicitor’s office in New York City, which filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The suit asks the court to permanently prohibit the defendants from future violations of the law, order them to pay employees the minimum wage and overtime back wages due, and compensate employees with an equal amount in liquidated damages or prejudgment interest.
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 hourly rates for every hour they work beyond 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 Labor Department is encouraging current and former employees of Uncle Bacala’s restaurant who worked there between Jan. 14, 2008, and the present to contact the Long Island office of the Wage and Hour Division at 516-338-1890. 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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