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Bay Area Restaurant Ordered to Pay $170K for Overtime Violations

Aug 7, 2019

A Thai restaurant in Pleasanton, California has been ordered to pay $170,000 to its employees after federal regulators determined it violated overtime laws.

The findings came from an investigation helmed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and revealed violations of federal law involving employee overtime pay. Here are some details about the investigation:

  • The WHD investigation covered overtime violations at New Thai Bistro in Pleasanton, CA from March 2016 through January 2019. Regulators determined the restaurant had been paying employees a flat daily or weekly rate without calculating the number of hours employees actually worked.
  • According to an article from the East Bay Times, violations involved servers, chefs, and other restaurant employees. Some of the restaurant’s servers worked over 4 overtime hours per week, while chefs and others worked over 11 overtime hours per week.
  • In addition to failures to pay overtime to employees who worked over 40 hours in a single week, the restaurant also failed to correctly compensate some workers for overtime; paying a straight-times rate rather than time-and-a-half pay required by federal law.
  • Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the restaurant was ordered to pay $172,862 in overtime wages to 14 employees, as well as a nearly $2,000 civil penalty.

Overtime Violations & Workers’ Rights

Workers’ rights and wages are governed by federal law (as well as state law in some states) under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Per the FLSA:

  • Covered, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of no less than one and one-half times (“time and a half”) their regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek.
  • Some exceptions to the 40 hours / week standard apply under certain circumstances, including those involving publicly employed first responders and hospital / nursing home employees.
  • Fixed sum or lump sum pay arrangements for work performed during overtime hours do not qualify as an overtime premium.

U.S. employment laws have evolved when it comes to protecting workers’ rights and ensuring they are paid for the work they have done. Unfortunately, employers throughout the nation continually violate federal law proscribed in the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying employees, enacting various non-permitted pay arrangements, or refusing to pay workers correctly for their overtime work.

As public records show, such violations are not uncommon in the restaurant industry. The WHD publishes its investigations into overtime violations on its website, and provides a database for workers who believe they may be entitled to unpaid wage – which you can visit here.

At Bailey Cowan Heckaman, our Houston-based lawyers represent clients nationwide in a range of employment and overtime law matters, including FLSA claims, wage and hour disputes, and cases involving all types of overtime violations. If you have questions about your rights and legal options, call (888) 367-7160 or contact us online. BCH proudly serves clients nationwide.

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