Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor files lawsuit against China Star restaurant in Austin, Texas, to recover minimum wage and overtime back wages for employees
23 workers owed more than $107,000
AUSTIN, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, against Oriental Eagle Inc., doing business as the China Star restaurant in Austin, and part owners Shu Han and Roger Wu seeking back wages for employees who were not properly paid. The suit resulted from an investigation conducted 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 Labor Department is committed to ensuring that all workers are paid full and fair wages,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “The Department of Labor is using all available enforcement tools to ensure that workers’ rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act are not violated. This litigation should send a message to other employers to ensure that they are paying their employees in compliance with federal labor laws.”
Investigators found that kitchen staff who worked between 58 and 65 hours per week were paid a flat salary in cash twice per month, without regard to how many hours they had worked. For many workers, the flat salary did not meet the applicable hourly minimum wage. Kitchen staff and servers were not paid the proper overtime premium for hours worked over 40 in a week. The employer also failed to maintain proper time and payroll records.
The suit seeks a total of $107,214 for 23 current and former kitchen staff and servers. In addition to recovering wages, the suit seeks an injunction against the company and its owners to prevent future FLSA violations.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Under certain conditions, the FLSA provides an exemption from the minimum wage and overtime requirements for some employees. To qualify for the exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations. For more information on such exemptions, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/fs17a_overview.pdf .
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its San Antonio office at 210-308-4515. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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