Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
Well-known Providence, Rhode Island, restaurants to pay more than $135K in back wages, damages to 17 workers
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Restaurant workers put in long, grueling hours on-the-job, yet they are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S. Making ends meet is hard enough when they're paid properly, but it's nearly impossible when their employer does not pay them for all hours worked.
In Providence, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found that four area restaurants owned and operated by Andrew Mitrelis — Café Paragon, Andreas Restaurant, Better Burger Co. and Mile & A Quarter — underpaid 17 servers and kitchen employees, in violation of the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
As a result, the restaurants will pay more than $135,000 in back wages and damages to the employees. They were also found in violation of the FLSA's record-keeping requirements and have committed to taking corrective action to ensure they obey the law in the future.
"Our ongoing initiative to remedy wage violations in the restaurant industry in Rhode Island and Connecticut has found these restaurants violated the law," said Michelle Garvey, the division's district director in Hartford. "These are typical of the violations we find. Our goal is to change this behavior. Restaurant employers industrywide must pay attention to cases like this one, review their own operations and take corrective action."
The investigations found several violations, including the following:
- Failing to pay for all hours worked.
- Paying straight-time rates for overtime hours.
- Not including bonuses in employees' rates of pay when calculating overtime.
- Maintaining inadequate payroll records.
- Failing to pay any wages to a tipped employee.
"Many of the affected workers here are primarily Spanish-speakers," said Donald Epifano, the division's assistant district director in Providence. "The Wage and Hour Division is a multilingual organization with staff fluent in nearly 50 languages. We are here and ready to assist all workers. No one should fear coming forward with a complaint if their employer has violated their right to a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Our services are free and confidential."
The Wage and Hour Division is committed to serving employees denied their hard-earned income. The division will use its authority to ensure they receive the wages to which they are legally entitled and need for expenses such as rent, transportation and food. In fiscal year 2014, Wage and Hour Division investigations found that restaurant industry employers underpaid approximately 44,000 workers in the U.S. by more than $34 million.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Nonagricultural and other nonexempt employees are entitled to time and one-half their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law. 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.
For more information about federal wage laws, or to file a complaint, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division's Providence Area Office at 401-528-4431. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.