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Paycheck Victory For California Restaurant Workers

Throughout Los Angeles County and San Francisco, restaurant owners have been consistently underpaying cooks, bus boys, servers and other restaurant staff, according the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. The issues with employee compensation were violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

A total of $672,333 has been collected on behalf of 273 California restaurant workers by the Wage and Hour Division. Violations included in the payout are:

  • Paying a salary rather than an hourly wage for all hours worked
  • Paying workers off the books, in cash
  • Failing to pay workers on a timely schedule
  • Failing to maintain accurate records of time worked
  • Ignoring minimum wage and overtime payment requirements

Ruben Rosalez, a regional administrator for the U.S. DOL's Wage & Hour Division championed the wage theft victory as a step toward improving working conditions for restaurant workers who are often under paid. The workers who benefitted from the investigation typically worked five to six days per week in 10-hour shifts.

Under the FLSA, workers must be paid at least $7.75 per hour worked (California's minimum wage is $8.hour) and time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week. The FLSA generally entitles a worker to twice the amount of money that was wrongfully withheld from his or her paycheck. This is considered back pay plus punitive damages against the employer.

For workers with smartphones, the US DOL encourages them to use a newly-designed app to track their own work hours, including breaks and overtime. Employees are required to log accurate hours under the FLSA, but the app allows workers to create their own record for compensation purposes.

Source: Latino Daily News, "California Restaurant Workers Recover More than $672,00 in Unpaid Wages," December 12, 2012

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