One of the most common types of employment rights violations is that which has to do with wages. As we discussed in a post last week, wage theft is a significant problem in many workplaces, and it occurs in many ways. One way that a Wisconsin employer might violate the rights of a worker is by failing to pay the proper overtime wage as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
A restaurant in Greenfield, Wisconsin, recently agreed to pay more than $116,000 in back wages to almost 40 employees when the U.S. Department of Labor discovered that it was violating overtime and record-keeping laws.
The investigation was reportedly conducted for the most part in Spanish by federal Wage and Hours investigators who found that the restaurant did not pay workers time-and-one-half their regular rate for hours worked in excess of 40--which is required by the FLSA.
Furthermore, the employer reportedly did not properly keep track of all of its employees' hours, and it paid cash for some hours.
The company has now agreed to pay the wages that are overdue and to adopt a better system for recording and monitoring overtime hours.
Under the FLSA, nonexempt workers must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25, as well as time-and-one-half their regular rate for each hour over 40 in one week. In Wisconsin, tipped employees only need to be paid $2.33 an hour as long as the workers' tips bring the overall wage as high as the federal minimum wage.
Wage laws are complicated, especially for small businesses, and especially when both state and federal statutes are involved. However, it is important for employers to educate themselves to ensure they are complying with all applicable laws. When they fail to do so, they may be held accountable for back wages and other damages.
Source: Milwaukee Business News, "Meyer's Family Restaurant to pay back wages," Feb. 20, 2013
- Our employment law firm in Wisconsin helps workers file wage complaints and recover damages from wage theft. More information about this area of our practice is available on our Fair Labor Standards Act page.