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Several restaurants in Massachusetts are being served with a bill that’s sure to cause owners heartburn: They’re being told to open the register wide and fork over $1.3 million in back wages to 478 underpaid workers.
Various violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) were found by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Boston Wage and Hour Division.
The Labor officials were most concerned about what they described as an emerging trend of treating restaurant workers as independent contractors — which means they’re exempt from wage, salary and record-keeping requirements of the FLSA.
Other violations included:
- paying employees flat salaries for all hours worked — and overlooking what should have qualified for overtime pay
- not combining hours worked at more than one location, to determine overtime eligibility
- paying incorrect overtime wages to people who made tips
- taking questionable deductions from employees’ wages, and
- not keeping accurate records of the hours people worked.
All the businesses involved have pledged to pay the deserving employees what they’re owed and comply with the FLSA in the future.
Under the FLSA, employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, with time-and-a-half for overtime.
In Massachusetts, tipped employees have a minimum wage of $8 an hour; $5.37 maximum tip credit against minimum wage and $2.63 minimum cash wage.
Now there’s even an app for helping businesses keep up with the paperwork: The Department of Labor has developed a smartphone application that helps employees keep track of their hours and the pay they should receive.
This app — and others from the Department of Labor — can be found here.
For information about the FLSA rules and enforcement, go here.