KMBC TV of Kansas City, Missouri reports that many “first time workers” in the service industry are taken advantage of by their employers. Common complaints include not being paid for all hours worked, not receiving minimum wage and not receiving overtime. All of these violations are considered “wage theft” and are illegal under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Lawrence, Kansas FLSA Sweep
The U.S. Department of Labor conducted a sweep of restaurants and hotels in Lawrence, Kansas. Known as a college town, many students work in service industry jobs while pursuing their education. Unfortunately, many are not properly paid.
The Labor Department said they found 14 restaurants and hotels had committed serious FLSA violations affecting 130 workers. The biggest offender was the King Buffet, a Chinese eatery. It owed workers $69,008.
Filing an FLSA Wage Theft Claim and Double Damages
Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay overtime or fails to pay for all hours worked. It often occurs when workers don’t receive at least minimum wage. Federal law says that restaurants only must servers $2.13 per hour but with tips, servers must earn at least $7.25 per hour. Many states and municipalities have even higher minimum wages.
For most servers, tips almost always exceed $5.12 per hour. That is the difference between the server minimum pay and federal minimum wage. Takeout restaurants, college bars and tip sharing often mean that servers don’t even receive minimum wage, however. When that occurs, the employer must make up the difference. Failure to pay the difference is against the law.
Filing an FLSA claim for unpaid hours, overtime or minimum wage violations is easy. If your employer refuses to pay, a lawyer prepares and files a lawsuit in federal court. Congress knew that most workers can’t afford a lawyer, especially when the amount of money is relatively small. Thankfully, the law requires the employer to pay the worker’s legal fees if the worker is successful.
The law also gives the worker double damages. That means if you are owed $500, the amount is doubled to $1000.
Because employers know that they are likely to have to pay the employee’s legal bill, many employers settle quickly. In the scenario above, a $500 claim could easily become a $5000 problem for the employer if not quickly resolved.
We agree with KMBC’s statement that many service industry workers are underpaid. College students and first time workers are especially at risk of becoming victims of wage theft schemes.
If you believe that you have been improperly classified as exempt from overtime, have not been paid for side work, have not been paid for all your hours or have been wrongly denied time and one half pay for hours in excess of 40, give us a call. From single cases to the national Uber driver’s class action, we can help. We have the experience and dedication to pursue these claims on behalf of workers
For more information, contact attorney Katherine Holiday at or by telephone at 202.800.9791. You can also visit our wage theft information page. Cases can be pursued nationally.
MahanyLaw – America’s Wage Theft and FLSA Lawyers