Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.
Date: October 21, 2014
Contact: Leo F. Kay or Jose A. Carnevali
Phone: 415-625-2630 or 415-625-2631
U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 14-1954-SAN (SF-70)
Jury finds Marin County, California, restaurant retaliated against workers for reporting wage violations
Owner ordered to pay $185,000 in wages, damages
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal jury in the U.S. District Court of Northern California returned a verdict against Seafood Peddler of San Rafael Inc. and its owner, Alphonse Silvestri, that found the Marin County seafood restaurant owner retaliated against kitchen workers who had cooperated with a U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found rampant wage violations.
Following the jury’s verdict, Judge William H. Orrick of the U.S. District Court of Northern California issued an injunction prohibiting Silvestri from retaliating against his workforce, and ordered the restaurant to pay its kitchen staff more than $185,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for overtime violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The judge also ordered Silvestri and his restaurant to improve record-keeping practices.
“The jury’s verdict pays tribute to a group of courageous employees who refused to back down in the face of threats to them and their families,” said Susana Blanco, director for the Wage and Hour Division office in San Francisco. “This verdict sends a strong message to others that retaliating against employees for exercising their rights in the workplace will not be tolerated.”
“Though all too common in the restaurant industry, Silvestri’s intimidation and retaliation against employees who were simply trying to receive their hard-earned wages is unconscionable,” said Regional Solicitor Janet Herold. “The jury got this verdict right. We will continue to go after employers that bully and intimidate workers for reporting violations of federal labor laws. Such retaliation is shocking and shameful as these workers already work long hours on difficult, demanding jobs for little compensation.”
The department’s Regional Solicitor’s Office in San Francisco filed the lawsuit in 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. An investigation covering a three-year period resulted in a determination in 2011 that Silvestri owed back wages, which he never paid.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular hourly rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
The department encourages current and former employees of Seafood Peddler, or of Silvestri, to contact the division’s San Francisco office at 415-625-7720. For more information about the FLSA, call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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