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restaurant workers not earning fair wages

Restaurant Employees Win Unpaid Wages In Arizona

The owner of five Chuy’s restaurants has agreed to pay just under $115,000 in unpaid wages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found the employer had failed to pay proper wages.

Chuy’s Restaurant Owner Failed To Pay Minimum Wage

restaurant workers not earning fair wagesAccording to the DOL, the investigation that was performed showed that the owner of five Chuy’s restaurants failed to pay employees the required minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, failed to pay overtime wages, and failed to accurately record the actual number of hours worked by employees. Instead of paying overtime wages, the employer paid employees with cash at a lower rate or simply pay them their regular wages instead of the full amount required by law.

All together the employer has agreed to pay $114,964 in back wages, as well as $20,372 in fines for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime pay. The wages will be paid out to about 55 employees.

Common Ways In Which Employers Violate Wage Laws

The owner of Chuy’s restaurants is not the first employer to violate wage laws. Sadly, wage theft is common and there are many “tricks” that employers use to try and get away with it, such as:

Misclassifying Employees

It is true that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there are certain workers who are exempt from minimum wage or overtime pay requirements. Frequently, employers will tell employees that they are considered a “manager”, “executive”, or “administrators” in order to classify them as a type of employee who is not eligible for overtime pay.

However, a title doesn’t necessarily mean that the position fits the definition of a “manager” or other exempt employees under the FLSA. What does this mean? This means that an employee is exempt based on their job duties and not the title they are given.

Careers where employees are often misclassified the most include:

  • Nursing
  • Accounting
  • IT Professionals
  • Warehouse Work

Another way that employers try to avoid paying overtime wages is to classify employees as “independent contractors”. Employees at companies like Uber and Lyft are currently fighting a legal battle regarding this title, hoping to be reclassified as employees.

Failing To Correctly Track Work Hours

Workers must be paid for all hours worked and yet over and over again, employers fail to pay for “off the clock” work. Examples of types of work that an employer may try to avoid paying for include:

  1. Commuting: Yes, most of the time an employee isn’t paid to commute to and from work. However, if your employer asks you to run errands during your commute or pick up other employees, this should be paid time. For example, if you commute 30 minutes to work and your employer asks you to pick up supplies at a midway point, you should be paid from the time you stop at the store to the time you actually stop work.
  2. Working While “On-Call”: If you are on-call and confined to the premises, such as being unable to leave a hospital while on call, even if there are no patients to attend to, you should be paid for this time. If you are able to go home, this likely will not count as on call time that needs to be paid.
  3. Correcting Work: If you are asked to work longer to correct work, whether your own or coworkers, this time does count and you should be paid for any hours worked.

If you suspect that your wages have been incorrectly calculated or that you have been misclassified, you should contact an attorney who has experience handling unpaid wage lawsuits. Steps can be taken to recover the wages that you are owed and you may ultimately help past and future employees recover wages as well.

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