Ohio Restaurant Ordered to Pay Back Wages to Underpaid Employees
Wage and hour violations occur at an alarming rate across the country. In fact, just last year, an Ohio restaurant was cited for improperly classifying as many as 235 workers in an effort to avoid paying the minimum wage. The case eventually made its way to a federal court of appeals, where a judge determined that the owner of the company needed to pay $388,507 in back wages and damages to employees that it had unlawfully titled “volunteers.” Unfortunately, this type of purposeful misclassification is commonly used by employers to avoid paying overtime or the minimum wage, so if your employer is refusing to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it is critical to consult with an experienced Columbus wage and hour violations attorney who can evaluate your case and help you seek compensation for your work.
After receiving a number of complaints from employees of an Ohio restaurant that was failing to pay minimum wage, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation of the company. At the conclusion of the investigation, the DOL determined that the company had violated not only the minimum wage law, but had also unlawfully withheld overtime pay from its employees by classifying employees who cooked, cleaned, waited tables, served as cashiers, and both stocked and maintained the buffet line at the restaurant as unpaid volunteers. Investigators also discovered that the company failed to pay managers an appropriate weekly salary and did not compensate them for overtime, claiming that they were exempt from the FLSA’s requirements.
The FLSA requires covered employers to pay their workers the federal minimum wage of $7.25. While it is true that tipped employees who perform duties similar to those of the employees in the aforementioned case, including waiting tables and bar tending, can be paid the lower amount of $4.08 per hour, employers who take advantage of this exception need to prove that employees are receiving enough tip credit to reach the minimum wage threshold. Employees who fulfill these types of roles are also eligible to receive overtime pay for every hour worked in excess of a 40 hour work week.
Unfortunately, the company in the case at hand did not pay a minimum wage or compensate workers for overtime. Ultimately, the judge found that the owner of the restaurant had encouraged members of his church to work at the restaurant as “volunteers” for no pay in an effort to save money. Furthermore, the owner’s repeated and constant solicitation of volunteer labor, as well as the volunteers’ feelings of pressure to work demonstrated that the individuals were actually employees. For this reason, the judge ordered the defendant to pay back wages to employees who were unfairly denied wages and overtime payment.
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To discuss wage and hour violations committed by your own employer, please contact Marshall & Forman, LLC. You can reach us by calling (614) 463-9790 or by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of our team is standing by to help you through each step of your case.