Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn
On August 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the operator of restaurant franchise locations in Mississippi who made employees pay for their safety training and background checks has paid $114,427 in back wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties, according to a news release from the DOL.
The DOL investigation led to the recovery of $51,674 in back wages and liquidated damages for 244 workers, and an assessment of $62,753 in civil money penalties. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation into pay practices discovered several violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the following:
- Minimum wage violations when paycheck deductions for uniforms and cash register shortages caused some employees’ average hourly rates to fall below the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
- Overtime violations when the employer’s deductions for safety training and background checks illegally decreased the rate-of-pay in weeks when workers earned overtime, and led to overtime pay at rates lower than federal law requires.
- Recordkeeping violations for failing to maintain a record of employee hours worked and wage deductions.
In addition to the wage violations, division investigators learned that a 15-year-old employee worked past 10 p.m. several times in June 2021, a violation of FLSA child labor work hours standards that prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from working before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. from June 1st through Labor Day.
In fiscal year 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $34.7 million for more than 29,000 workers in the food service industry. In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports near record numbers of job openings and workers in the accommodations and food services industry quitting their jobs.
“Employers who do not respect their workers’ rights will likely struggle to retain and recruit the people they need to remain competitive, as workers look for opportunities with employers that do,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, stated in the news release from the DOL.
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar, a leading Human Resources technology company – provides background screening services for the food service industry to help these organizations build repeat business through screening and hiring the best employees. To learn more, contact ESR today.
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