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US Labor Department obtains an order against Atlanta's Antico Foods LLC to stop retaliation against workers during investigation
ATLANTA — The U.S. Department of Labor filed a petition for a temporary restraining order and obtained a consent order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia enjoining Atlanta business Antico Foods LLC and its owner from intimidating and retaliating against any of their employees who are cooperating in a federal investigation.
The department's Wage and Hour Division began an investigation of Antico Foods in July 2014 to determine if the business complied with the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Soon after the investigation began, Antico Foods' employees reported to investigators that company owner Giovanni DiPalma accused a worker of cooperating with Wage and Hour and terminated the employee. Furthermore, DiPalma instructed employees to hide from investigators and to provide false information to investigators about their work hours and the identity of their employer. DiPalma also reportedly threatened the employees with termination of employment.
"Employers must understand that employees have the legal right to be safe in the workplace, free from retaliation and intimidation, and must be able to speak with Wage and Hour representatives when they are not being paid correctly or when the employer engages in discriminatory action," said Eric Williams, the Wage and Hour Division's Atlanta district director.
"Seeking such an order protecting employees was absolutely necessary in this case," said Stanley E. Keen, the department's regional solicitor of labor for the southeast. "The department will not tolerate worker intimidation, such as that alleged here."
The consent order prohibits Antico Foods and DiPalma from terminating employment; retaliating or discriminating against employees they believe have spoken with or will speak to Wage and Hour Division investigators; instructing employees to not speak with or to provide false information to investigators; and obstructing the investigation.
The order also requires the defendants to allow a department representative to provide employees with an oral and written statement about their right to speak with investigators without fear of retaliation.
Antico Foods is comprised of five adjoining Atlanta businesses: Gio's Chicken Amalfitano; Antico's Pizza Napoletana; Bottega Luisa; Caffe Gio; and Bar Amalfi.
The investigation is being conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's Atlanta District Office and litigated by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta.
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 of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
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 its Atlanta District Office at 404-893-4600. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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Perez v. Antico Foods LLC and Giovanni DiPalma Civil Action Number: 1:14-cv-03143