Personal Injury

Restaurant Owners Threatened Employees Into Silence Over FLSA Violations

money Restaurant Owners Threatened Employees Into Silence Over FLSA ViolationsThe U.S. Department of Labor said it has entered into an agreement with a suburban Washington D.C., restaurant requiring its owners and managers to stop intimidating or retaliating against employees who cooperate with a Labor Department investigation and ongoing litigation involving Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) violations.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division started an investigation of alleged labor violations at Aroma Indian Cuisine in Arlington, Va., in August 2013. The investigation uncovered numerous FLSA violations, and the Labor Department subsequently filed suit to enforce federal regulations.

“Our investigation concluded, and our suit alleges, that the owners failed to pay employees the wages they were owed. We also believe the owners attempted to use intimidation tactics to pressure employees to cease cooperating with our investigation,” said Mark Lara, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Baltimore District Office. “This case should send a strong message to employers: hindering an investigation by intimidating employees will not be tolerated, and will not prevent federal labor laws from being upheld.”

Employees of the restaurant also told Labor officials that the owners pressured employees to sign “waivers” relinquishing their FLSA rights to recover back pay, overtime, and participate in the government’s investigation and ongoing litigation.

The department obtained a consent order in a Virginia federal court prohibiting Aroma Indian Cuisine from terminating employment; retaliating or discriminating against employees they believe have spoken with or will speak to federal Wage and Hour Division investigators; and asking employees to waive their FLSA rights.

The order also requires the restaurant owners to allow a Labor Department representative to provide employees with oral and written statements about their right to speak with investigators and participate in the litigation without fear of retaliation. The owners signed the statement and posted it at the restaurant.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor