U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Back Wages And Damages for Workers at Pennsylvania Restaurants
ELKINS PARK, PA – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ordered SM Choi Inc. – which operates four fast-food establishments in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania – to pay $93,146 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 38 employees for willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Department also assessed the employer $26,121 in civil penalties.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found SM Choi Inc. willfully violated overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA.
WHD investigators found that the employer paid cashiers and cooks flat salaries, in cash, without regard to the number of hours that they actually worked. This practice resulted in violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek but the employer did not pay overtime. SM Choi Inc. also failed to maintain required records of the number of hours employees worked. WHD found the employer engaging in this same practice in a previous WHD investigation in 2016.
"SM Choi Inc. employees worked five to six days per week, for an average of 10 hours per day, and were denied the wages they rightfully earned," said Wage and Hour Division District Office Director James Cain, in Philadelphia. "This enforcement action and consent judgment will help to ensure that workers are paid the wages they are legally owed and that employers in the restaurant industry operate on a level playing field."
WHD is committed to providing employers with the tools they need to understand their obligations and to comply with federal labor laws. Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.