Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department files lawsuit against China Wok restaurant in Albuquerque, NM, to secure more than $77,000 in overtime wages, damages
Civil money penalties total an additional $20,900
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Nine Fortune LLC, doing business as China Wok in Albuquerque, and its owner, Hau Fu Cheng, to recover $38,508 in wages and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages on behalf of 19 kitchen staff, cooks and dishwashers employed by the company. The department’s investigation, conducted by Wage and Hour Division personnel, found that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay the employees overtime compensation as required by law. Civil money penalties assessed for the willful, repeat violations total an additional $20,900.
“The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that all workers are paid full and fair wages,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “The restaurant industry employs some of the most vulnerable workers in the country. In this case, employees worked up to 55 hours in a workweek without receiving overtime compensation. This is illegal and unacceptable. This lawsuit demonstrates that the Labor Department will use all enforcement tools available, including litigation, to recover workers’ wages and to ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers.”
The investigation conducted by Albuquerque District Office personnel determined that the employer did not pay workers time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, resulting in the overtime violations. Investigators also found that the employer required employees to clock out at the end of their scheduled shifts, even though they continued to work. Additionally, records required by the FLSA were not maintained.
The complaint filed in the District of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico Division, against Nine Fortune LLC, and its owner Hau Fu Cheng, seeks back wages and liquidated damages for 19 employees and an injunction to prevent future violations of the FLSA. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour 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 records of hours worked 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 is 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 http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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 Albuquerque office at 505-248-6100. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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 America’s 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.