JONESBORO, Ga. (Dec. 17, 2013) — The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Wang’s Partner Inc., doing business as Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Jonesboro, and its owner, Shu Wang, to recover unpaid wages and damages under, Fair Labor Standards Act.
The department is seeking $1,997,726 in back wages and liquidated damages for 84 employees. The lawsuit is based on an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, which revealed numerous violations of the FLSA. The lawsuit has been filed by the department’s Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Investigators from the division’s Atlanta district office found that the employer misclassified servers as independent contractors, failed to pay servers and kitchen staff at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and failed to pay overtime compensation at time and one-half employees’ regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 in a work week. Additionally, the employer did not maintain accurate records of hours worked and wages paid.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that all workers receive the wages to which they are legally entitled,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We will not stand by while employers use business models that hurt workers, their families and law-abiding employers. This lawsuit illustrates that the department will use every enforcement tool necessary to resolve cases where employees are unlawfully treated as independent contractors, and vulnerable workers are not paid the minimum wage.”
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
The misclassification of workers as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers and to the entire economy. Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections, such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Employee misclassification also generates substantial losses to state and federal treasuries, and to the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds.
Accessible and searchable information on enforcement activities by the Department of Labor is available at http://ogesdw.dol.gov/views/search.
The Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta District Office can be reached at 404-893-4600. Information about the Service Contract Act and other federal labor laws is available by calling the division’s toll free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visiting www.dol.gov/whd.