Published Date: 04/07/2014
By George Ports
The US Department of Labor (DOL) has filed a lawsuit against Wang’s Partner Inc., doing business as Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Jonesboro, GA and its owner, Shu Wang, to recover unpaid wages and damages due to alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL is seeking $1,997,726 in back wages and liquidated damages for 84 employees. The lawsuit is a result of an investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.
The DOL alleges that the employer misclassified servers as independent contractors, failed to pay servers and kitchen staff at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and failed to pay overtime compensation at time and one-half employees’ regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week. It was also alleged that the employer did not maintain accurate records of hours worked and wages paid.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
The misclassification of workers as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees and employers. Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections, such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Employee misclassification also generates substantial losses to state and federal treasuries, and to the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds.
For more information on enforcement activities by the USDOL, go to http://ogesdw.dol.gov/views/search.