Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Houston-area ice cream parlors to pay more than $30,000 in back wages, liquidated damages to 12 employees after US Labor Department investigation
HOUSTON -- Twelve workers employed at four commonly-owned ice cream parlors in the Houston area, all doing business as Marble Slab Creamery, will be receiving a total of $15,498 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.
The establishments, owned by Nizar Maredia, are located on Westheimer Road in Houston, the Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, and the West Bay Area Boulevard and Gulf Freeway in Webster. The Houston area location is incorporated as Best Ice Cream Inc., the Friendswood location is incorporated as Clearlake Ice Cream Inc. and the Webster locations are incorporated as Fresh Ice Cream Inc.
“The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Employees of these Marble Slab Creamery locations worked more than 40 hours in a week without overtime compensation. This practice is illegal and unacceptable and, as demonstrated in this case, we are using all tools available, including the assessment of liquidated damages, to ensure that employees receive the compensation to which they are entitled under law.”
Investigations conducted by the division’s Houston District Office found that workers were paid on a semimonthly basis and there was no established workweek schedule to determine when an employee worked more than 40 hours a week, as required under the FLSA. As a result, employees were paid “straight time” wages for all hours worked instead of receiving time and one-half their regular rates of pay for overtime hours. Additionally, accurate records of employees’ work hours and wages were not kept, and the establishments failed to correctly display a required poster on employees’ rights under the FLSA.
The employer sites have agreed to fully comply with the FLSA in the future as well as to pay all wages owed, along with an equal amount in liquidated damages, to the affected employees. They also committed to establishing a proper workweek schedule and implementing a new timekeeping system to ensure that employees are paid correctly for all hours worked. Payment of the back wages owed is ongoing.
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, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the Department of Labor is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/search. Publicly available enforcement data are also available through the free mobile application “Eat Shop Sleep,” which enables consumers, employees and other members of the public to check if a hotel, restaurant 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.
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 the division’s Houston District Office at 713-339-5500. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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