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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

News Release

Buffet restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, agrees to pay more than $227K in back wages, interest to 13 kitchen workers

US Labor Department investigation found minimum wage, overtime violations

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For the kitchen workers at an Alexandria restaurant, making ends meet was a never-ending challenge, and working long, exhausting hours didn't help.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that Wah Feng LLC, doing business as Win Buffet, a full-service buffet restaurant in Alexandria, did not pay employees minimum wage and overtime, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Under a consent judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the company and its owner, Jin Cai Shi, will pay a total of $227,048 in back wages and interest to 13 employees. The court also enjoined both the corporation and the individual owner from violating the FLSA in the future.

"This is a clear example of a restaurant taking advantage of its low-wage employees. Because of its practices, vulnerable workers did not receive the wages they rightfully earned," said Mark Lara, director of the division's Baltimore District Office. "We are committed — through enforcement and education — to ensuring that workers receive a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and businesses that obey the law are not placed at a competitive disadvantage to lawbreakers."

Baltimore District Office investigators found that the company paid kitchen workers a fixed monthly salary in cash, regardless of the number of hours worked on a weekly basis. At times, they were required to work additional hours without receiving additional compensation. These employees worked six days a week for up to 72 hours.

The restaurant also incorrectly classified workers, who were paid on a salary basis, as exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA. Some employees were not paid enough to earn the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour when their salaries were divided by the number of hours worked. None of the workers received overtime pay at time and one-half when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Additionally, the employer did not keep accurate time and payroll records.

Attorneys from the department's regional Office of the Solicitor in Arlington litigated the case.

The FLSA requires that covered nonexempt workers be paid at least the federal minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rate of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Wages are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered. Deductions made from wages for items such as cash shortages, required uniforms, or customer walk-outs are illegal if the deduction reduces the employee's wages below the minimum wage or cuts into overtime pay. Tips may be considered as part of wages, but the employer must pay not less than $2.13 an hour in direct wages and make sure that the amount of tips received is enough to meet the remainder of the minimum wage.

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Civil Action Number: 1:14cv1667 (LO/JFA)

WHD News Release: [10/26/2015]
Contact Name: Leni Fortson or Joanna Hawkins
Phone Number: (215) 861-5102 or x5101
Email:
uddyback-fortson.lenore@dol.gov or Hawkins.Joanna@dol.gov
Release Number: 15-2037-PHI