Restaurant chain owners paying $123k in back wages, damages

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The owners of four restaurants based in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut are paying up after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division says they underpaid employees.

Wage and Hour investigators subpoenaed payroll records for Mozzarella’s in Dayville, Conn., and three locations of Fitzy’s Pub in Plainville, Mass., East Greenwich, R.I., and North Providence, R.I. They found the employers didn’t pay overtime when employees worked more than 40 hours a week, didn’t maintain accurate payroll records, and failed to pay some tipped employees at least the federal minimum wage. The employers also required one tipped employee to purchase uniform aprons, resulting in a minimum wage violation, and deducted withholdings in excess of the amount allowed by law for child support payments.

“The violations found in this case are all too common in the restaurant industry,” said Donald Epifano, assistant district director of the Providence area office of the Wage and Hour Division. “Employers who short their employees not only hurt workers and their families, but also gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors.”

Across the four restaurants, 22 workers had been underpaid. The Mozzarella’s and Fitzy’s owners have been ordered to pay $123,574 in back wages, as well as $4,114 in civil monetary penalties.

To resolve the case, the restaurant owners have also agreed to conduct annual training for management on complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), conduct bi-annual meetings to educate employees about the Act, amend employee handbooks to include employee rights and prohibited practices, and have quarterly compliance audits of all four restaurants.

The Wage and Hour Division gave these details on the individual establishments:

Mozzarella’s/Dayville, CT
3 employees were paid back wages of $25,255 plus the same amount in damages
Restaurant paid fines of $561

Fitzy’s Pub/Plainville, MA
5 employees were paid back wages of $20,639 plus the same amount in damages
Restaurant paid fines of $935

Fitzy’s Pub/North Providence, RI
4 employees were paid back wages of $5,283
Restaurant paid fines of $748

Fitzy’s Pub/East Greenwich, RI
5 employees were paid back wages of $10,610 plus the same amount in damages
Restaurant paid fines of $1,870