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News Release

US Labor Department secures nearly $330K in back wages, liquidated damages for employees of restaurants operated by Antico Foods LLC

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ATLANTA — An Atlanta restauranteur who is alleged to have cheated his workers out of their wages for years and threatened them if they cooperated with federal officials investigating his business conduct, has agreed to pay 60 employees a total of $329,445 in back wages and liquidated damages for violating their wage rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that Giovanni DiPalma routinely directed his employees to work as many as 30 hours of overtime per week, yet avoided paying them proper compensation. Instead, DiPalma paid some workers a straight salary, and improperly classified others, such as kitchen staff, as exempt from overtime. The FLSA requires employees be paid one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rates for every hour worked beyond 40 per workweek.

Additionally, DiPalma misclassified an administrative assistant as an independent contractor, thereby denying her the protections of minimum wage and overtime laws. Misclassified employees are often denied access to the critical benefits and protections they are entitled to such as workers' compensation if they're injured on the job, and unemployment insurance in the event of job loss. Misclassification also generates substantial losses to federal and state governments in the form of lower tax revenues.

"Denying those who help your business establishments succeed the wages to which they are legally entitled is not only illegal, but it's also unconscionable," said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil. "Restaurant employees are among the lowest paid workers in the country and their struggles to pay the bills are made all the more difficult when they are cheated out of their pay. This case demonstrates that we will uphold the law and the principle that every worker deserves a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

In October 2014, the department sought a temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia enjoining DiPalma from intimidating and retaliating against any of his employees who were cooperating with the Wage and Hour Division investigation. United States District Judge Steve Jones ordered a hearing regarding the department's request. During the hearing, the parties negotiated a consent order for a preliminary injunction, which was entered by the court on Oct. 7, 2014.

The current agreement is incorporated into a consent judgment, which was entered by the judge on Sept. 23. The order not only requires DiPalma and Antico Foods to pay back wages and liquidated damages, but also includes a five year injunction against the defendants from terminating or threatening to terminate workers, causing employees to be deported or threatening to cause any worker to be deported as well as threatening, intimidating, discriminating or retaliating against employees in any manner.

The agency began an investigation of Antico Foods in July 2014 to determine whether the business complied with the provisions of the FLSA. Soon after the investigation began, Antico Foods' employees reported to investigators that DiPalma accused a worker of cooperating with the investigation fired him. Furthermore, the department alleged that employees were instructed to hide from investigators and to provide false information about their work hours and the identity of their employer. DiPalma also reportedly threatened the employees with termination of employment.

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 department's investigation was conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's Atlanta District Office, and the case 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 678-237-0521. Information also is available at

Wage and Hour Division
September 22, 2015
Release Number
Media Contact: Michael D'Aquino
Media Contact: Lindsay Williams
Phone Number