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Fayetteville restaurant fined, ordered to pay $104,000 in back wages

A Fayetteville-based restaurant chain has been ordered by the federal government to provide $104,000 in back pay to 230 workers at five Georgia locations and fined nearly $1,900 for letting minors work later than allowed by federal law.  The U.S. Department of Labor took the action after its Wage and Hour Division investigated This Is It! BBQ and Seafood restaurant and found violations of the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The probe found the company improperly classified employees as exempt from the FLSA and consequently failed to pay them time and a half their regular rates for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek.  Investigators determined employees were not paid the minimum wage because the company deducted uniform expenses and lunch breaks. Workers younger than 16 were allowed to work later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day and later than 7 p.m. at other times of the year, another violation of federal restrictions for young workers. The company also failed to maintain accurate records of tips earned and hours worked, a violation of FLSA record-keeping provisions.

Owner Shelley "Butch" Anthony declined to comment. However, the company agreed to maintain future compliance with FLSA by keeping accurate records and paying full and proper wages for all hours worked. The company has hired a payroll firm to help correctly compute overtime compensation for workers who get tips.  "The restaurant industry is rife with wage violations and evasive business practices -- such as paying employees ‘off the books,' making illegal deductions from workers' wages and improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees as exempt from the act's overtime pay protections -- all of which deny low-wage and vulnerable workers the pay guaranteed to them by law," said Oliver Peebles III, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta. (click on link to read full story)

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