U.S. Department of Labor Investigations Recover More Than $1 Million In Back Wages and Damages for Tampa-Area Restaurant Workers
TAMPA, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) office in Tampa, Florida, conducted 350 investigations of employers in the restaurant industry in fiscal year 2018, finding over $1 million in back wages and liquidated damages for more than 1,500 employees for minimum wage and overtime violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). WHD assessed more than $19,000 in civil money penalties in these investigations. As part of this effort, the Tampa district office engaged with several chambers of commerce and multiple other stakeholders in payroll and human resources to provide compliance assistance and education to help ensure that employers in the restaurant industry understand their responsibilities and how to avoid violations.
WHD recovered more than $476,000 in back wages for more than 600 employees after their employers violated the overtime requirements of the FLSA through pay practices such as improperly classifying some employees as exempt from overtime, resulting in violations when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek without overtime pay. Violations also occurred when employers paid tipped employees overtime at rates based on their direct cash wages instead of the full applicable minimum wage, as required by law.
More than 1,000 employees received over $335,000 in back wages to remedy FLSA minimum wage violations resulting from practices such as employers failing to provide final paychecks to employees who had left their jobs, inaccurately calculating the employers' credit against their minimum wage obligations for tips received by employees, illegally deducting money from employees' paychecks for cash or merchandise shortages, and charging workers for uniforms. Illegal tip pooling arrangements also resulted in minimum wage violations.
WHD found child labor violations when seven employers failed to adhere to the FLSA's requirements for employing workers under the age of 18, ranging from employing minors in prohibited hazardous occupations to employing workers under 16 years old beyond the number of hours or times of day permitted.
"Federal law allows employers a wide variety of methods to pay their employees. None of these methods, however, relieves employers from their legal responsibility to keep track of all the hours employees work, and to ensure that they pay for all of those hours," said District Director James Schmidt, in Tampa. "When restaurant owners violate the law, they gain an unfair economic advantage over their law-abiding competitors. We provide numerous tools and conduct extensive outreach to help employers understand their responsibilities and avoid violations."
WHD provides more information about concluded investigations in our publicly available online enforcement database, at https://enforcedata.dol.gov/homePage.php.
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.