U.S. Department of Labor Investigation and Litigation Results in Consent Judgment Requiring New York Restaurants to Pay Back Wages and Liquidated Damages to 79 Current and Former Employees
WESTBURY, NY – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has entered a consent judgment requiring three Long Island, New York-area restaurants and their owners to pay a total of $365,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 79 current and former employees. The court action follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and litigation by the department’s Office of the Solicitor. The defendants must also pay $15,000 in penalties.
WHD found that Williston Town House in Williston Park, Old Westbury Diner in Old Westbury, Towers on the Green in Floral Park and owners Spiros Dimas and Baftije Dimas violated the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Investigators found that cooks, bussers and dishwashers typically worked 60 hours a week or more but that the defendants paid those employees flat weekly salaries regardless of the number of hours that they worked. The defendants thus violated federal law by failing to pay overtime premiums for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. WHD also found that the defendants failed to maintain accurate time and pay records, at times failing to keep any time and pay records.
“Employers have a responsibility to understand federal wage laws that apply to their businesses, to pay employees properly and to record their employees’ work hours and pay rates accurately,” said Wage and Hour District Director David An in Westbury, New York. “The Wage and Hour Division offers multiple compliance assistance tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and legal obligations to their employees.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor will take appropriate and effective legal actions to ensure that employees receive the wages they have earned for their work,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York City. “Our work continues to level the playing field for employers.”
In addition to requiring the defendants to pay back wages, liquidated damages and penalties, the consent judgment prohibits them from violating the FLSA in the future. It also prohibits them from retaliating against or directly or indirectly soliciting or accepting any of the back wages or liquidated damages paid to employees. In addition, the judgment orders the defendants to, among other things, post notices for a period of two years in English, Spanish and Greek, informing employees of the settlement and their FLSA rights; distribute copies of WHD flyers and fact sheets detailing employees’ FLSA rights and overtime pay requirements to all current employees and new employees hired within one year. They must also use automated or otherwise FLSA-compliant timekeeping systems for all employees to reflect employees’ work hours accurately, including those of employees who work at multiple locations.
WHD’s Long Island District Office conducted the investigations. Trial attorneys Rosemary Almonte, Frances Y. Ma and Hollis V. Pfitsch litigated the case for the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York. View the complaint and consent judgment.
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 WHD, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
The mission of WHD is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation's workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.