CAMDEN, NJ – Two companies that operate 17 Houlihan’s franchisee restaurants in New Jersey and New York and their owner Arnold Runestad will pay $5,000,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 1,471 current and former employees to resolve a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The agreement is part of a consent judgment filed on April 2, 2018, that is pending review and approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The Department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Saddle Brook-based A.C.E. Restaurant Group Inc., A.C.E. Restaurant Group of New York LLC, the individual restaurants, and Runestad violated the FLSA when they denied overtime pay to employees who worked more than 40 hours a week at multiple restaurants. They also violated the law’s minimum wage requirements when they included ineligible, non-tipped employees in a mandatory tip pool, retained portions of employees’ tips, and routinely deducted money from employees’ paychecks for meals while also requiring them to pay for meals.
“The Wage and Hour Division works to ensure that employees receive the wages they have rightfully earned, and that employers who fail to comply with the law do not gain an unfair competitive advantage over those who do,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Mark Watson, Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will not hesitate to pursue appropriate legal measures, such as this consent judgment, so that employers commit to corrective action, restitution, and ongoing compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.
In addition to payment of the back wages and liquidated damages, the consent judgment requires the defendants to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and anti-retaliation provisions, and provide employees with a notice of their FLSA rights.
The New Jersey restaurants are located in Bayonne, Brick, Bridgewater, Cherry Hill, Eatontown, Fairfield, Hasbrouck Heights, Holmdel, Lawrenceville, Metuchen/Woodbridge, New Brunswick, Paramus, Ramsey, Secaucus, and Weehawken. The New York locations are in Farmingdale and Westbury.
The Division’s Northern and Southern New Jersey and Long Island District Offices investigated the case. Attorneys Daniel Hennefeld, James Wong, Molly Theobald, and Lindsey Rothfeder of the Department’s regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.
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Acosta v. A.C.E. Restaurant Group Inc., A.C.E. Restaurant Group of New York LLC, Arnold Runestad, et al
Civil Action Number: Case 1:15-cv-07149-JHR-AMD