- The owners of a chain of Massachusetts pizza restaurants have agreed to pay $330,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 150 current and former employees to settle alleged Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The owners also must pay a $20,000 civil money penalty.
- In court documents, DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigators alleged the restaurants — Stash's Pizza, Boston Pizza Co. and Weymouth Pizza Co. — violated federal law in several ways, including falsifying time records for some employees. by "deleting hours of work on the company’s point-of-sale timekeeping system." The employer also failed to pay proper minimum wage and overtime pay and hired a delivery driver under the age of 18. DOL said employees at the company's locations worked 60 to 80 hours a week but were paid their regular rate instead of time-and-a-half for overtime hours worked for about three years. The underage delivery driver was 16 years old when hired, as well, the complaint alleged.
- The consent judgment implementing the settlement requires the defendants to cooperate with any future WHD investigations and provide investigators with "truthful responses, information, and documents." In addition, the order prohibits the defendants from falsifying time records, requesting or requiring employees to work "off the clock;" attempting to recover any of the wages and damages due the workers; and "harassing, retaliating, discharging, reducing the work hours, or threatening adverse action against any of the workers due wages and damages."
The FLSA's recordkeeping provisions require that covered employers keep accurate, complete records for each non-exempt worker. A particular form is not required, but certain information is, including the time and day of the week when an employee's workweek begins, hours worked each day, total hours worked each workweek, the basis on which employee's wages are paid, regular hourly pay rate, total overtime earnings for the workweek and all additions to or deductions from the employee's wages and total wages paid each pay period, among other requirements. The records must be kept for at least three years and be open for inspection by WHD representatives.
Technology, a reduction in unionization and widespread internet access appear to have improved employees' understanding of their FLSA rights, meaning compliance is particularly important for employers in today's market.
"The U.S. Department of Labor will rigorously enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act and investigate employers who not only deny workers their wages, but continue to do so while attempting to conceal their actions," WHD Boston District Director Carlos Matos said in a statement. "Employers who short their workers and impede investigators to gain an unfair economic advantage will not be tolerated."