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Fair Labor Standards Act allegedly violated by restaurant chain

The Fair Labor Standards Act is one of those pieces of federal laws that is enormously complicated and not necessarily always clear in what standards it sets out. The difficulty with complying with this law may have partially been what led a small restaurant chain to being fined by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Allegedly, the company committed numerous wage and child labor violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act throughout Georgia, Missouri and West Virginia.

Reportedly, the company will pay $48,317 for alleged repeat violations and child labor violations. It will also compensate workers to the tune of $60,500 for unpaid wages. Allegedly, the company had failed to fully comply with the minimum wage standard of $7.25 per hour, and didn't pay employees overtime when they worked for more than 40 hours a week. No information was available as to what led to the purported child labor violations, although it may have inaccurate record keeping.

The allegations come as the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department has been conducting an investigation into the restaurant industry in Georgia. According to a local news report, the division has supposedly found widespread non-compliance with provisions related to the minimum wage, child labor and record keeping.

An employer should consider consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in the Fair Labor Standards Act to see if their business could be inadvertently infringing on the claims being investigated. The attorney may be able to assist in drawing up rules for managers to ease compliance with federal law. In the event of a Labor Department investigation, the attorney may also be able to ensure that the company's books are all in order while presenting a strong and meaningful defense on the company's behalf.

Source: The Macon News, "Huddle Houses in Georgia fined for wage abuses," Oct. 26, 2011

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