Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Miami-based Barton G. restaurants to pay $28,000 in back wages to 99 low-wage workers, following US Department of Labor investigations
Wage and Hour Division uncovers systemic wage violations at fine-dining establishments
MIAMI -- Barton G. Inc., operator of three fine dining establishments, has agreed to pay $28,027 in back wages to 99 employees following investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which found violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. These were disclosed at all of the restaurants: Barton G. The Restaurant in South Beach; Prelude By Barton G. inside the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts in Miami; and The Villa By Barton G. inside the former Versace Mansion in Miami.
“People visit fine dining establishments to enjoy great cuisine, hospitality and luxury services, and yet we find many low-wage workers of fine dining restaurants exposed to unjust treatment and wage violations,” said Will Garnitz, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Miami District Office. “Tipped employees deserve their full pay, and the Labor Department is committed to ensuring that all employees receive the pay due them under federal labor laws. We encourage companies that have questions to contact the Wage and Hour Division to clarify their responsibilities.”
Investigators from the division's Miami District Office found systemic FLSA violations at the Barton G. restaurants resulting from the company's failure to properly compensate tip-earning employees, such as servers and bartenders, for all hours of their work. After reviewing payroll records and conducting employee interviews, investigators determined that many employees were made to rely primarily on tips and earned wages that fell below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Barton G. also failed to properly calculate and compensate tipped employees for all overtime hours, those worked in excess of 40 in a week. Additionally, record-keeping violations occurred due to the company's failure to maintain accurate payroll records, as required under the FLSA. Specifically, in one of the restaurants, servers were paid a percentage of their sales, which is a commission and not a tip.
Following the investigations, Barton G. agreed to pay all back wages due and to maintain future compliance with the FLSA. The company also has committed to changing its payroll system to catch employees whose wages fall below the minimum wage and is training its payroll department to properly calculate overtime for tipped employees.
The restaurant industry employs some of our country's lowest paid workers who, due to a lack of knowledge of the law or unwillingness to exercise their rights, are vulnerable to disparate treatment and labor violations. The Wage and Hour Division has several enforcement initiatives ongoing in Florida and throughout the nation to identify and remedy widespread noncompliance issues that are common in the restaurant industry.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked over 40 per week. The act also requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
If certain conditions are met, the FLSA permits an employer to take a tip credit toward its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees. The employer must pay tipped employees a cash wage of $2.13 per hour or the state mandated cash wage, whichever is higher; all tips must be retained by the employee except for contributions to a valid tip pooling arrangement; employees must be informed of the tip credit provision; and the amount of tips plus cash wages must equal at least the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour. Additionally, some states, including Florida, have a higher requirement for the employer’s share of wages.
Publicly available enforcement data is available through the free mobile application “Eat Shop Sleep,” which enables consumers, employees and other members of the public to check if a restaurant, hotel or retail location has been investigated by the Wage and Hour Division, and whether FLSA violations were found. The app is available at https://sites.google.com/site/eatshopsleepdol.
This case was investigated by the Wage and Hour Division's Miami District Office. Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the Department of Labor is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/search. For more information about the FLSA, call the division's Miami office at 305-598-6607 or its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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