Miramar Beach restaurant pays $108K in back wages, penalties following US Department of Labor investigation
MIRAMAR BEACH, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor has found an upscale Miramar Beach restaurant again violating federal minimum wage and overtime laws, and redirecting a portion of servers’ tips to non-tipped workers illegally.
An investigation at the Ocean Club by the department’s Wage and Hour Division has recovered $97,222 in back wages owed to 30 workers. Investigators found the following violations of minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act by the restaurant’s operator, Ocean Club of Walton County Inc.:
- Required servers to give 5 percent of their tips to their managers, who then re-distributed them to non-tipped workers.
- Paid cooks flat salaries regardless of the number of hours they worked, failing to pay them required overtime when they worked more than 40 hour in a workweek.
- Ignored overtime obligations when it changed a manager’s status from hourly to salary – depending on the number of hours worked in the week – and failed to pay for any hours the manager worked beyond 40 in a workweek.
The employer also failed to maintain accurate records of the number of hours employees worked, violating FLSA recordkeeping requirements.
“Restaurant employees are among the nation’s lowest paid essential workers. They depend on their hard-earned wages, including tips for good service, to make ends meet,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Wildalí De Jesús, in Orlando, Florida. “An employer like the Ocean Club that repeatedly evades its legal obligations shortchanges their workers, and gains an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors. The results of this investigation should serve as an opportunity for other employers to examine their pay practices to ensure they comply, and avoid similar violations, back wage payments and penalties.”
The violations in this investigation mirror those the department found in a 2015 investigation which resulted in the Ocean Club paying $50,623 to 29 workers. The Ocean Club’s repeat infractions in this latest investigation led the department to assess a $10,903 civil money penalty.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.