TAMPA, FL – A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found two operators of Tampa-area Tropical Smoothie Café franchise locations failed to pay workers their full wages, allowed minor-aged employees to work more hours than the law allows when school is in session, and permitted some minors to illegally load a trash compactor.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found JAB Adventures Inc. – operator of eight Tampa-area franchise locations – deducted money from workers’ paychecks for uniforms and cash register shortages, which caused their average hourly rates to fall below the federal minimum wage. The employer also paid some employees straight-time rates for overtime hours worked and failed to pay other employees for all hours worked, resulting in federal minimum wage and overtime violations. The division recovered $6,520 in back wages and liquidated damages for 56 workers.

The division also found JAB Adventures allowed eleven 14- and 15-year-old employees to work more than 18 hours during a school week, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on a school day and more than 40 hours during non-school weeks, all violations of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the employer allowed workers under age 18 to load a trash compactor while the keys were inserted and the machine was in the “on” status, also a violation of federal child labor regulations that prohibit employing minors to perform hazardous jobs. The division assessed the employer $10,054 in penalties for the child labor violations.

In a separate investigation, the division recovered $17,494 in back wages for 93 workers of Three Grls LLC – operator of seven Tampa-area Tropical Smoothie franchises – after finding the employer failed to distribute tips collected on credit card receipts to employees after the company installed a new cash register system. The employer also failed to maintain proper time records. All resulted in FLSA violations.

Three Grls also allowed eleven 14- and 15-year-old employees to work past 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day, more than three hours on a school day, and more than eight hours on a non-school day. The employer also allowed a 15-year-old to load a trash compactor. The division assessed the employer $10,564 in penalties for the child labor violations.

“Employers have a responsibility to respect workers’ rights to be paid all of their earned wages and to safeguard young workers’ well-being and education by making sure they understand and abide by federal child labor laws,” said Wage and Hour District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida. “We encourage workers with questions about their employers’ pay practices and anyone with questions about youth employment to contact the Wage and Hour Division for guidance.”

These investigations are part of an ongoing cross-regional food services initiative in the Southeast by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the agency’s Southeast region found child labor violations in more than 190 food service employers investigated, resulting in more than $1 million in penalties assessed to employers.

The Wage and Hour Division offers multiple tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone with questions about how to comply with the law, by calling the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Visit the agency’s website to learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including  information about protections for young workers on the department’s YouthRules! website. 

The agency also maintains a search tool to learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.

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