A recent case here in California involving some pizza restaurant operators shows how seriously the government takes overtime and other wage violations. The two franchisees who run six locations here in Northern California were ordered to pay over $600,000 for wage and hour as well as child labor law violations.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that they did not pay overtime wages to some 33 employees who earned them. Investigators found they didn’t add up the number of hours that employees put in at multiple locations. The DOL ordered the franchisees to pay a total of over $608,000 in back wages as well as liquidated damages.
The investigation also uncovered child labor law violations
Investigators also found that the franchisees violated child labor laws in the hours they allowed minor employees to work. Under the law, young people under 16 are limited in the number of hours they can work per day and per week during the school year as well as how early in the morning and late at night they can work. They can’t work over 8 hours a day at any time. The employers were fined over $13,000 for those violations.
Since many teens work in the food service industry, it shouldn’t be surprising that many child labor violations occur in this industry. In the previous two fiscal years, the Western region of the Wage and Hour Division penalized over 160 food service businesses for more than $760,000 for these violations.
Employees are increasingly asserting their rights
A local official with the Wage and Hour Division noted that in addition to such violations being financially costly to employers, it can affect their ability to “retain or recruit workers than their competitors whose actions show they respect workers’ rights and pay them their full wages.”
Employees in all lines of work have come to expect better wages and more rights (and are ready to go elsewhere or venture out on their own if they can’t find them). The least you deserve is the wages you’re due for the work you put in. If you believe that your employer is in violation of wage and hour laws, you’re probably not the only victim. If you can’t resolve the issue with your employer, it may be wise to seek legal advice.