News Release

US Department of Labor obtains preliminary injunction against Benton restaurant to stop employing children illegally, retaliating against workers

Tim’s Tavern, owner allegedly fired employee who warned violations would be reported

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The owner of a Benton tavern and restaurant has agreed to comply with a preliminary injunction obtained by the U.S. Department of Labor to stop the employer from violating federal regulations.

The action comes amid allegations that Tim’s Tavern and owner Tim Steppach failed to pay minimum and overtime wages as required, kept workers’ tips, employed children illegally and fired a worker who warned that the department would be notified.

Specifically, a February 2024 investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined the employer allowed several 14- and 15-year-old children to work outside legally permitted hours on school nights and weekends. Investigators also learned that — as far back as August 2022 — Steppach had failed to provide regular paychecks; did not pay minimum wage, overtime and tips as required; and neglected to keep records, all of which violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

The findings prompted the department’s Solicitor’s Office to seek a restraining order in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas Central Division to prevent Tim’s Tavern and Steppach from employee retaliation, oppressive child labor and illegally withholding employees’ minimum wage, overtime pay and tips.

“Federal law protects workers from wage theft, prevents vulnerable children from being employed illegally and ensures that workers can alert the U.S. Department of Labor of potential violations without fear of retaliation,” explained Southwest Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Betty Campbell in Dallas. “Our investigation identified numerous violations by Tim’s Tavern and Tim Steppach, and we are using every enforcement tool available to protect their employees and to hold this employer fully accountable.”

Specifically, the preliminary injunction prohibits the employer from doing the following:

  • Threatening, intimidating, discriminating against, harming, or otherwise retaliating against the retaliation victim or other current and former employees for exercising their rights under the FLSA including cooperating with and reporting alleged violations to the department.
  • Contacting the retaliation victim directly.
  • Violating the child labor protections of the FLSA.

The department also filed a complaint seeking full relief for all of the FLSA violations, including paying employees for all owed minimum wages, overtime wages and withheld tips, and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

“The Department of Labor enforces the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including workers’ rights to be paid their full earned wages and to voice their workplace concerns,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater in Dallas. “The law also holds employers who hire minors responsible for meeting their legal and ethical obligations to comply with child labor standards to stop work experiences from jeopardizing their well-being or educational opportunities.”

For more information about the Fair Labor Standards Act 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.

Wage and Hour Division
July 3, 2024
Release Number
Media Contact: Chauntra Rideaux
Media Contact: Juan Rodriguez
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