Florida Restaurant Sued by Department of Labor For Forcing Return of Employee Paychecks

I have blogged on many occasions that employees are entitled to recover overtime for all hours worked over 40.  I have also frequently blogged about the frequent practice of employers improperly classifying employees as independent contractors.  However, this is a new one, an employer that gives employees checks and then makes the employees return them.

According to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), tipped employees at the La Nopalera restaurants on Beach Boulevard and Phillips Highway received their tips plus a paycheck every week that together equaled the minimum wage. The employees were then required to sign the paychecks and give them back to management, who put the money back into the restaurants, DOL charged.

In addition to paycheck sleights of hand, the restaurants also allegedly misclassified kitchen employees as exempt, improperly denying them overtime. As a result, the restaurants and their owners were ordered to pay $584,425 in back wages plus $350,000 in damages to 30 employees, for a total tab of $934,425.

The restaurants and their owners have 13 months to complete the payments in installments, DOL said.

If your employer has failed to pay you wages owed, or are improperly classifying you as exempt, call the U.S. Department of Labor or an attorney that handles wage theft and overtime cases.  Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm will provide you with a free consultation.


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  • http://twitter.com/fsusma Richard Bradford

    Many years ago, we had a client do the same thing.  We told him that he cannot conduct his business this way.  He failed to follow our advice and we sent him to find alternate counsel.  Not sure how DOL dealt with him.