The U.S Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has announced a major coup, after a federal crackdown on illegal practices at Italian restaurants on Long Island.
Investigators found wage and hour violations galore and managed to recover $2.3 million in back wages owed to nearly 600 workers at 46 Italian restaurants and pizzerias. The Department of Labor also leveled more than $200,000 in civil penalties against the employers for repeated violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers apparently skirted overtime requirements, falsified payroll, and tried to escape from tax liabilities.
The Director of the U.S. DOL’s Long Island District Office, Irv Miljoner, said that investigators found not only violations of minimum wage law and overtime rules, but also a massive number of employees being paid off the books. Some restaurateurs countered that the improper pay structure was necessary for them to compete – they argued that if their restaurants paid fairly, they would have to raise prices, and thus they would lose business to competitors.
This defense seems, at first glance, to make sense. However, once you really consider the logic, it reveals itself as absurd. It’s like saying, “I beat my wife because she won’t listen to me otherwise.” If you can’t make a relationship work – whether personal or business – within a legal or moral frame, you probably shouldn’t be in that relationship.
The Department of Labor is now turning its laser-like focus on diners in Suffolk and Nassau counties, searching for wage and hour violations. Miljoner issued a statement about that investigation: “We’re already finding what we thought we would find.”
The attorneys here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum have led the charge against New York City restaurant wage and hour violations. Attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum has won fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view) for taking on the largest, most venerated restaurants in the Big Apple and punishing them for mistreating and underpaying their workers.
If you or someone you love or care about has been mistreated, harassed, underpaid, or discriminated against at a restaurant or other establishment, our team can help. Learn more about our commitment to justice at www.jhllp.com, or get a free, confidential, compassionate consultation by reaching out to us at (212) 688-5640.