US Department of Labor recovers $370K for 54 workers at two restaurants, whose owners denied overtime pay; attempted to hide violations
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $370,194 in back wages and liquidated damages from the owners of two restaurants in Los Angeles and Pasadena who illegally denied overtime wages to 54 workers, and attempted to hide their misdeeds.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Rober Yousef Babish, wife Ivette, and sons Julian and Joseph – owners of the two Millie’s Cafe locations – failed to pay overtime pay to employees for hours over 40 in a workweek, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Investigators found that, in some cases, employees worked as many as 37 hours of overtime per week.
In an effort to mask their violations, the owners issued company checks and made cash payments. They also failed to keep records of all hours worked, including overtime hours, which led to recordkeeping violations.
“Wage theft is a serious violation, and restaurant industry workers are too often its victims,” explained Wage and Hour Assistant District Director Susan Bacon in Los Angeles. “These low-wage workers can least afford to have their pay shortchanged, especially by unscrupulous employers like the owners of these Millie’s Café restaurants. We are determined to recover all workers’ hard-earned wages and hold to account those who deny them their due.”
In addition to recovering $185,097 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in damages, the division assessed $40,446 in civil money penalties for the willful nature of the employers’ violations.
In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $34.7 million for more than 29,000 workers in the food service industry. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports near record numbers of job openings and workers in the accommodations and food services industry quitting their jobs.
“Today’s workers can choose to work for employers who value them, pay them full wages and respect their rights as workers,” Bacon added. “Employers who comply with labor law and appreciate the dignity of work will have a clear advantage when it comes to retaining and recruiting the people they need for their businesses to operate.”
In this case, investigators learned about the employer’s practices through the Employment Education and Outreach alliance (EMPLEO) which manages the multistate toll-free hotline 1-877-552-9832 to assist Spanish-speaking workers with workplace issues.
The Wage and Hour Division also protects workers against retaliation and has regulations that prohibit retaliation, harassment, intimidation or adverse actions against employees that assert their worker rights. 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 and how to file an online complaint. Workers and employers with questions can contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.
Download the agency’s new Timesheet App, now available for Android and iOS devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.