U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Court Ordering Nashville, Tennessee, Restaurant to Pay $220,000 to 31 Employees
NASHVILLE, TN – The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, has ordered Hetal Patel Inc., Pankaj and Hetal Patel, and Madhusudhan Naik - operators of the Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant - to pay $220,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 31 employees at its Nashville, Tennessee, restaurant. The action comes after a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found violations of minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD investigators determined the employers paid some food prep workers, cooks, and dishwashers flat salaries without regard to the number of hours they actually worked. These employees worked approximately 60 hours per week, resulting in hourly rates less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In addition, the employers failed to pay required overtime to these employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Investigators also found the employers failed to keep required payroll records, an FLSA violation.
“Employers are responsible for paying their employees all the wages they have legally earned,” said Nettie Lewis, the Wage and Hour Division's district director in Nashville. “The Department’s Wage and Hour Division provides a wide variety of tools for employers to learn about these requirements, and encourages them to reach out to us for assistance so that violations can be avoided.”
In December 2017, the Department’s Office of the Solicitor filed a complaint against Hetal Patel Inc., Pankaj and Hetal Patel, and Madhusudhan Naik to remedy the violations found in the investigation. The defendants settled with the Department and the parties filed a consent order and injunction that the court approved on December 11, 2018. In addition to ordering the payment of back wages and damages, the court has also enjoined all the parties named from committing future FLSA violations.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.