NEW YORK – The operator of a Subway restaurant franchise in Manhattan’s Lower East Side who fired an employee during an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has learned that underpaying employees and retaliating against them has expensive consequences.Division investigators found that NPK Foods Inc., which operates the Subway franchise at 334 Grand St., violated the anti-retaliation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act when it pressured one employee to sign a document falsely claiming there were no violations, they had been paid in full and there had been no threats or poor treatment. The employer also told the employee to return any back wage payment to the employer, then later fired the employee.The employer also violated federal minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping requirements by not compensating employees for training time, paying some employees straight time for all hours worked and failing to keep accurate records of the total hours worked by employees.To resolve its violations, NPK Foods Inc. has paid the former employee $10,000 in punitive damages and paid $3,907 in back wages and liquidated damages to 18 employees. The recovery compensates all 18 employees denied the required minimum wage and three employees who did not receive the overtime wages they earned. “Requiring employees to lie to federal investigators isn’t and should never be a condition of employment. This investigation reminds employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate such behavior and will seek to recover wages owed to employees,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jorge R. Alvarez in New York. “We take allegations of retaliation very seriously and urge workers to contact their nearest Wage and Hour Division office with any questions or concerns.”The FLSA requires that most employees in the U.S. be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at not less than time and one-half the required rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. It also prohibits employers from firing or taking adverse action against employees for exercising their rights. Learn more about how the Wage and Hour Division protects workers against retaliation. 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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of where they are from. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices – free and now available in Spanish – to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
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