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July 26, 2023

DOL orders 6 CT restaurants to pay back wages and damages for labor law violations

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An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor has led to a court order requiring six restaurants and their owners to pay a total of $858,191 in back wages and liquidated damages to 105 employees who suffered employment law violations.

The DOL accused six restaurants of withholding tips, wages and overtime from employees:  55 Wine Bar in Fairfield; Cava Wine Bar and Restaurant in New Canaan; Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant in New Haven and Westport; Scena Wine Bar and Restaurant in Darien; and Sundown Saloon in Greenwich. 

Last November, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granted summary judgment in favor of the DOL, concluding that the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and recordkeeping provisions.  

As a result, the DOL and the employers entered into a consent judgment in February. The judgment forbids the employers from violating the FLSA and requires them to pay $858,191 in back wages, withheld tips and liquidated damages to the employees.

“These employers’ pay practices deprived workers of the full, hard-earned wages and tips on which they depend to help them support themselves and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Donald Epifano in Hartford. “While these types of violations are common in the restaurant industry unfortunately, they can be prevented with knowledge and compliance with the law.”

Employers with questions and concerns about their responsibilities under federal wage laws may contact the DOL’s helpline at 866-4US-WAGE. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially.

The Fair Labor Standards Act sets minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in federal, state and local governments. 

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Overtime pay at a rate of at least one-and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required for hours over 40 in a workweek. 

There are also specific FLSA rules for the restaurant industry and tipped employees.

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