Federal investigation, consent judgment leads to recovery of $170K in back wages, damages for 17 workers at two Austin-area restaurants
AUSTIN, TX – A federal investigation and consent judgment has recovered $170,000 in back wages and liquidated damages from the operator of two Austin-area restaurants who denied overtime to 17 kitchen workers who labored 60 hours a week. The probe found the restaurants’ operator later submitted falsified documents to investigators to make it appear they had paid overtime pay to resolve Fair Labor Standards Act violations found by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin approved a consent agreement requiring B & G North LLC and Sir Sai Balaji LLC, operator of Biryani N Grill locations in North and South Austin to pay the back wages and damages by Sept. 1, 2021. The parties also agreed to an injunction to prohibit the employer from future violations of FLSA overtime and recordkeeping provisions. The court approved the consent judgment on June 1, 2021.
The financial recovery comes after two investigations by the department’s Wage and Hour Division which found Biryani N Grill paid the kitchen workers a flat salary and initially claimed that, as independent contractors, they were ineligible for overtime. In a subsequent investigation, the employer produced falsified receipt forms to suggest they paid the back wages when they had not, and they failed to correct the pay practices that caused the FLSA violations. The company also failed to keep accurate records as the law requires.
“Restaurant workers provided essential service and supported the economy throughout the worst of the pandemic, and still its industry’s workers – and their families – are victimized by their employer’s wage theft,” said Wage and Hour Division Southwest Regional Administrator Betty Campbell. “The U.S. Department of Labor will vigorously pursue corrective action to hold violators responsible, deter future violations and prevent violators from cheating their competitors.”
“The outcome provides much needed relief to vulnerable workers who depend on those wages to make ends meet,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater in Denver. “The U.S. Department of Labor will use every tool available to ensure the rights of workers are not violated.”
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). Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.