In an ongoing investigation of the restaurant industry in Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has uncovered numerous wage and hour violations worth more than $1.3 million in back wages to 478 employees.
The DOL's investigators found restaurants paying employees flat salaries for all time worked without overtime pay, failing to combine hours worked at multiple locations for overtime purposes, paying incorrect overtime to tipped employees, making illegal deductions from employees' wages, and failing to keep accurate records of employees' hours. Even more serious, says the agency, the investigation found an emerging trend of misclassifying restaurant workers as independent contractors in order to avoid minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The DOL plans to coordinate with state agencies responsible for enforcing state laws that address such violations and may refer these types of cases to the Internal Revenue Service when appropriate. The agency also plans to continue outreach and educational efforts with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association to help the organization's members comply with the law.