Employment law can be somewhat complicated, but one easy maxim to remember is this: If you worked the hours, your employer must pay you for them.

Apparently, that was not happening at restaurants across a wide swath of California. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it had recovered more than $672,000 that was owed to busboys, cooks, dishwashers, waiters and other restaurant staff.

In a statement, a Department of Labor spokesman said the offending restaurants were spread across California, but it seems they were largely concentrated in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

According to the statement, the offending restaurants committed the following misdeeds:

  • Paying restaurant staff members a fixed rate, no matter what the hours worked.
  • Refusing to pay overtime wages for hours worked past the 40-hour-per-week mark.
  • Paying employees cash “off the books.”
  • Failing to maintain accurate payroll records
  • Not paying employees on scheduled paydays
  • Refusing to pay for all the hours worked.

The spokesman went on to criticize these restaurants for taking advantage of “vulnerable”, minimum-wage workers, many of whom were evidently recent immigrants or first-generation Americans.

As we said, it is important that you remember that, as an employee, you have rights. If something at work does not seem right to you, do not be discouraged from seeking help investigating whether all is on the up and up.

Source: Latino Daily News, “California Restaurant Workers Recover More Than $672,000 in Unpaid Wages,” Dec. 12, 2012

  • Our law firm often works with people who are concerned that they have been mistreated on the job in some way. If this story sounded all too familiar to you, you might consider visiting our Wage and Hour page to learn more.