WILLIAMSBURG, VA – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment in a Virginia federal court to recover $205,180 in back wages and liquidated damages from a Williamsburg restaurant that shortchanged 62 employees of their overtime wages intentionally.The court action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found FFT Restaurant Group LLC, operator of Food for Thought and owner Howard Hopkins paid kitchen staff straight-time rates for all hours worked, including hours over 40 in a workweek, which denied them required overtime rates. The employers also failed to keep accurate records of employees’ hours worked and did not display federal minimum wage posters as required. These actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.“Our investigation found that the employer did not pay some employees their hard-earned overtime pay, which is unacceptable,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Roberto Melendez in Richmond, Virginia. “Many restaurant workers struggle to make ends meet and they deserve to be paid for all hours worked. Employers who shortchange their employees will be held accountable.”The order entering the consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Newport News on October 4, 2023, requires the company and Hopkins to pay $102,590 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. They must also pay $50,034 in civil money penalties for the intentional nature of their violations. The order forbids them from future FLSA violations.“The Department of Labor remains committed to using all litigation tools, including consent judgments, to recover all workers’ hard-earned wages. This case should remind other restaurant employers that violating the law leads to costly consequences,” said Angela France, an attorney in the department’s Office of the Solicitor in Arlington, Virginia. Food for Thought is a full-service restaurant located at 1647 Richmond Road in Williamsburg.For more information about the FLSA and other laws the division enforces, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish.
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