- The U.S. Department of Labor recovered $190,730 in back wages and damages for 89 affected workers at two commonly owned St. Petersburg, Florida, restaurants: Red Mesa Inc., operating as Red Mesa Restaurant, and Veytia Ventures, LLC, operating as Red Mesa Cantina.
- DOL found the restaurants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by withholding tips from workers to cover unpaid customer orders, wrongfully charging employees for their uniforms and denying workers minimum wage and overtime pay, according to a March 9 news release. The restaurants could not immediately be reached for comment.
- “By law, two or more establishments that are commonly owned are considered a single enterprise. In this case, the employer assigned employees to work at two locations they owned. They should have added the hours worked at these locations together and paid overtime when the combined hours exceeded 40 hours in the same workweek,” Wage and Hour District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff said in the news release.
DOL’s Wage and Hour Division enforces the FLSA, which establishes standards on minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment.
The agency frequently cracks down on restaurant violations of the law; last September, for example, an Austin restaurant operator was deemed in violation when it shared employee tips with managers, and in October, two Boston restaurants were fined when they allegedly failed to pay minimum wage, overtime or maintain records. Child labor violations are common as well, as in the case of a Chick-fil-A franchisee that DOL said allowed young employees to work beyond legally permitted hours.
Investigators recovered more than $27 million for 22,531 food service workers in 3,840 cases during fiscal year 2022, according to the agency. Food service is considered a low wage, high violation industry, by the division. In that category, DOL collected more funds only from construction-industry employers.
“Employers are responsible for understanding and complying with federal laws regarding pay practices,” Ratmiroff said.