A group of four Connecticut restaurants have agreed to pay 53 workers a total of nearly $319,000 in back wages, plus interest, to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to the terms of the agreement, the restaurants will pay the total amount of back wages found due by the Labor Department as well as $53,680 in penalties for violations of the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and child labor provisions. DOL investigators had found the restaurants paying kitchen employees fixed weekly salaries for all hours worked, without regard to overtime premium pay due for hours over 40. The restaurants also did not keep accurate records of hours worked by employees.

In addition, the investigation found a 17-year-old dishwasher operating a meat slicer and another 17-year-old operating a meat chopper. Federal child labor provisions prohibit the operation of power-driven meat and poultry processing machines by workers under 18.

When employers do not pay their employees correctly, they are also hurting those businesses that do pay their employees properly, says the Labor Department. No one should derive an advantage by skirting the law, especially by putting young workers at risk.