Tampa Bay restaurant workers get more than $1 million in back wages
By WFLA.com web staff
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -
Tampa Bay area restaurant workers received more than $1 million in back wages and damages after the 2-year U.S. Department of Labor labor law enforcement initiative.
The initiative was aimed at strengthening labor law compliance in Tampa Bay. The investigation began in 2012 and since then 152 full-service local restaurants have agreed to pay 1,518 employees $861,820 in back wages, plus $152,081 in damages. The Wage and Hour Division that handled the initiative also assessed $12,509.25 in civil money penalties.
Here are some of the restaurants with significant violations: - Frenchy’s Original Café, 41 Baymont St., Clearwater; - Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the Beach, 7 Rockaway St., Clearwater; Frenchy’s South Beach Café, 351 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater; - Frenchy’s Saltwater Café, 419 Poinsettia Ave., Clearwater; - Frenchy’s Outpost Bar and Grill, 466 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin; Simply Delicious LLC, 4601 66th St., Kenneth City; - Vallarta’s Mexican Restaurant, 9212 Anderson Road, Tampa; Vallarta’s Mexican Restaurant, 13731 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.
Clearwater-based Frenchy's restaurants were among Tampa Bay eateries that federal investigators say were not adhering to labor laws.Frenchy's released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"Nearly a year ago, Frenchy’s entered into an agreement with the Department of Labor to resolve an issue related to employee tips. Once we became aware of this issue, we immediately corrected it, made full payment to all affected employees and are in full compliance with all labor and employmentlaws. At Frenchy’s, our employees are like family. We do everything we can to treat them well, and if it were not for the loyalty of our employees, we wouldn’t have been in business for more than 30 years," said Michael Preston
U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Wayne Kotowski said the division is committed to protecting restaurant workers.
"Underpaying and improperly paying workers cheats them out of their hard-earned income, making it unnecessarily difficult for them to make ends meet," Kotowski said.
Common violations included employers creating illegal tip pools involving kitchen staff. It resulted in servers and waiters not being paid the proper minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or overtime compensation. The employers were also cited for paying straight-time wages for overtime hours and making illegal deductions from worker’s wages for credit card transaction fees, which reduced wages below the required minimum wage.
Child labor violations included allowing minors to perform hazardous duties, such as operating and cleaning a meat slicer.
For details about state sanitation inspections at your favorite local eateries go to our Restaurant Ratings section.