The U.S. Department of Labor has announced an enforcement and education initiative focused on the restaurant industries in Los Angeles and San Francisco designed to ensure Fair Labor Standards Act () compliance.
From 2005 to 2011, the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) conducted more than 1,800 investigations of restaurants along the West Coast. It found 71% were violating the FLSA. In all, more than $12 million in back wages were owed to more than 9,500 employees.
Of Los Angeles restaurants the WHD investigated, 72% were discovered to be in violation of the FLSA. In San Francisco, 68% of restaurants were breaking the wage-and-hour law.
Common violations in the restaurant industry include: not paying employees for all hours worked, having employees work off the clock, misclassifying employees as exempt and making illegal deductions from employees’ wages for uniforms, breakage, cash register shortages or walkouts in which customers left the restaurant without paying.
Note: The DOL has established an online database that consumers and employees can use to find out if a restaurant, hotel or retail establishment has been investigated by the WHD and whether FLSA violations were found. On the web, see http://ogesdw.dol.gov, or look for a smartphone app called “Eat Shop Sleep.”