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Labor Department: Minneapolis 'Eat Street' restaurants owe over $360K in back wages and damages

Labor Department: Minneapolis 'Eat Street' restaurants owe over $360K in back wages and damages Photo: MGN

Updated: September 26, 2019 10:30 AM

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) says 15 restaurants in Minneapolis' "Eat Street" district were found to have violated parts of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping requirements.

The department said Wednesday that investigators found minimum wage and overtime violations at Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar, Black Sheep Pizza, Salsa a La Salsa (Global Market), Salsa a La Salsa (Nicollet Avenue), Marissa's Supermarket & Bakery, El Nuevo Mariachi, Eat Street Social, Los Maizales and Pancho Villa Minneapolis.

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The initiative was conducted by the WHD to educate employers, address common FLSA violations and improve compliance with federal wage laws, the Department of Labor said in a release.

The effort will recover $367,359 in back wages and liquidated damages for 162 employees.

According to the department, in 2018, the WHD's education and enforcement initiative included outreach at more than 30 educational events for the Minneapolis' restaurant industry, as well as outreach to industry associations, one-on-one consultations with employers, seminars for small business owners, training for payroll associations and collaboration with worker task forces.

Common violations found by investigators include:

  • Paying employees fixed salaries without regard to the number of hours they actually worked, resulting in violations when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week yet were not paid overtime;
  • Paying for overtime hours at straight time rates, in cash;
  • Failing to pay for overtime hours worked in one week, and instead paying them out in shorter, subsequent workweeks at straight time;
  • Shaving hours from employees' time and illegally rounding partial hours;
  • Failing to count short work breaks as work time; and
  • Failing to maintain required time and payroll records. 

Black Sheep Pizza issued the following statement to KSTP Thursday: 

"Black Sheep Pizza, Eat Street or any of our 3 locations, has no current minimum wage violations, nor have we ever. The DoL inquiry for us was related to overtime hours with respect to people voluntarily working more than 40 hours across our different locations. We mistakenly believed that our locations would be treated as separate work places. We were forthcoming with information in regards to the DoL inquiry. Each of the affected employees was paid out immediately for back wages they accrued and overtime fines were paid. No back payment or fines is currently owed to any of our employees or the DoL.  

We have since corrected our policy and no longer have employees work in more then one location unless specific overtime pay is accounted for credited to said employee. We strive to maintain stellar workplace conditions across all of our locations and pay people fairly for the time they put in. We appreciate the DoL's efforts to clean up labor questions. It was helpful and easy to adjust the way we operated."

You can find more information here.

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